Friday, April 08, 2011

Game #81 - at New York Islanders

Game 81
Penguins (47-25-8, 102 points) at Islanders (30-38-12, 72 points)

Why does it matter?
There are two aspects to this game:
  1. The Penguins have a chance to catch the Flyers for the top spot in the Atlantic (they cannot finish first overall in the East).
  2. The last game between these two clubs was infamous.
The Pens need to focus on the first (earn two points) while doing their best to ignore the second. Put off any revenge / retribution until next year.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Trying to remedy the back-to-back losses against Philly and Tampa by winning out against teams out of the playoffs.
  • Islanders - They've somehow convinced themselves that what happened last time was "... a little out of control, but that's hockey sometimes" (it isn't hockey, Matt Martin). They've also lost five out of six games and will be enjoying the golf course after this weekend.
Questions to be answered
  • Will the Pens stick to what HCDB is saying and just focus on the two points? They really need to - playoff positioning is more important than revenge.
  • Will the Pens be able to match the intensity of the Isles? Let's not forget that before all of the nonsense, the Isles kicked the stuffing out of the Pens on the ice last time.
  • Who will be in goal? I think you want to start Flower, but you don't want anything to happen to him... and with Michael Haley on the other team, that's certainly not a given. If the Pens do go after anyone today, I hope it's that guy. Going to fight a goalie can't be allowed.
Keys to the game
  • Start strong and stay that way. Don't get caught sleeping early on like the last meeting.
  • Keep rolling the lines. Make the Isles pay for having guys who can't play like Gillies and Haley on the bench. When the Isles' better players are sucking wind at the end of the third, the Pens will have fresher legs.
  • Be aware of Grabner. Speed kills, and he has tons of it.
  • Score on the power play. Jordan Staal managed to get one against Jersey - time to build on that.

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