Islanders-Penguins : Morning Skate Update

By Andy Graziano

Pittsburgh, P. A. – The Pittsburgh Penguins have completed their morning skate at Consol Energy Center as they prepare to take on the New York Islanders in game one of their best of seven NHL playoff series tonight. Faceoff is 7:30pm EST.

Sidney Crosby skated with the Pens strength and conditioning coach an hour prior to his teammates taking the ice and remained on with them, although he was skating on a fifth line.

According to Arthur Staple, Islanders beat writer for Newsday, head coach Dan Blsyma has confirmed that Crosby will not play tonight. Not really surprising as their superstar captain has still not participated in a full contact practice and by all accounts, looks very thin. Even when Crosby returns to game action, you would think his timing and stamina are going to be far from 100%.

Blsyma would not confirm or deny any other lineup changes but everything is pointing to Brooks Orpik (lower body) and Tyler Kennedy (undisclosed) being unavailable as well.

Blsyma was one of the few actually giving the Islanders credit prior to game one. I would expect nothing less from the classy boss of the Pens..

As for the Islanders, they are on the ice for their morning skate as of this very moment. Everyone knows that Evgeni Nabokov is the starting goaltender and whispers around Islander land is that Marty Reasoner will draw back into the lineup, maybe for the sole reason he has 23 playoff games on his résumé (2nd of the team behind Nabokov’s 80).

Jesse Joensuu would be the most probable scratch to accommodate Reasoner on the 4th line while there is little chance we see Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton in the lineup tonight.

An editor edit will follow once we have more confirmation from the Isles morning skate.

It goes without saying that this is a huge opportunity for the Isles to take advantage and gain an early lead in the series on the road. Sentiment is growing that winning at least one of the opening two games in Pittsburgh is almost a must for the Isles.

The Penguins are plenty deep at forward to survive without Crosby so the losses of  Orpik and Kennedy loom larger. Brooks is always playing against the opposition’s top line and Kennedy is a valuable forechecker, penalty killer and can occasionally chip in on the scoresheet.

Keep it right here for your postgame coming later followed by ‘Dump and Chase’ – our postgame wrapup.

Feel free to comment below and let us know what you think of the news coming out of the morning skate.