NYI vs. PIT series preview

By, Kevin Psomas

· Kevin Psomas

Playoff time has come, the Islanders have one last chance to bring the cup back to the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders will have a first round meeting with their rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins. Historically the Islanders have done well against the Penguins playing to a 4-1 overall record in playoff rounds against Pittsburgh with the most recent being the Islanders’ 4 game sweep of the Penguins in the 2019 NHL Playoffs. The penguins have been lead by their Captain Sidney Crosby this year. Crosby has 62 points (24G 38A). Although Crosby has been an offensive force the Islanders have Adam Pelech who shut Crosby down and held him without a point until game 4 of the 2019 playoffs. Crosby had just one assist in that whole series. Obviously this is a much different year but you have to like what Adam Pelech has brought to the Islanders this year. The Islanders are lead by Mathew Barzal. The young star has 45 points (17G 28A) on the board this year in just 55 games and he has really been the team's best player this year. Barzal said this sirius would be a “war” and I believe he is correct. The Islanders were 2-4-2 agaisnt the Penguins this year. In all fairness the Islanders very well could have been 4-4 in this series had they not blown the 2 games in which they blew a late lead in both but, in any case that's how the series played out. The 2 Islanders wins were both electric nights at the barn. The first Islander win was a 4-3 win on a late goal by their captain Anders Lee and the second was a 2-0 win on the back of a shutout by Ilya Sorokin and a powerplay goal by Oliver Wahlstrom. The Islanders will not have home ice advantage in the series meaning the first 2 games will be at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Islanders are 0-4 in that building this year and especially with the lack of consistent play on the road the Islanders will need to step it up big time to silence the Penguins crowd. Games 3 and 4 will be played at the Nassau Coliseum, the capacity will be increased meaning an absolutely raucous crowd is going to be in that building for one final playoff run. The Islanders are 2-0-2 against the Pens in the Coliseum and as I mentioned earlier, they could have easily won all four of those games. In terms of the Penguins, they have been red hot going into the playoffs and they know that the Islanders while they have been fading towards the end of the year are a dangerous playoff team. Last year’s playoffs had the Penguins exiting early during the qualifying round at the hand of the Montreal Canadiens while the Isles made a run to game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals where they were taken down by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The series is going to be a battle between the Islanders defensive structure and physicality and the offensive powerhouses of the Penguins. If the Islanders can successfully keep the Penguins offense down and frustrated it would be good signs for the Islanders. They cannot let the Penguins get ahead of them because the Islanders have not played their best when trailing in a series under Barry Trotz.  The big goal scoring matchup is Sidney Crosby and Brock Nelson. Nelson had 3 game winning goals in the playoffs last year and he seems to be heating up just at the right time. Anthony Beuavillier and Oliver Wahlstrom have to provide secondary scoring for New York and Jean-Gabriel Pageau is sure to return to playoff form, Pageau has 27 career points with 11 of them coming last year on the Islanders magical run, add on that his +19 and you have a deadly player for the postseason. If the Islanders can grasp momentum in game 1 the Islanders have a good chance to win. This series is going to be a battle and the Islanders surely have a chance to win it.

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