May 3, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders centerJohn Tavares
(91) takes the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in game two of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
“WE SHUT THEM DOWN…..BECAUSE WE CAN….NOW GO OUT THERE AND TAKE IT” Herb Brooks 1937-2003
Middletown, N. J. – It has been six years since the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has seen a playoff game. It has been 19 days since the Islanders last played a game on this ice surface (April 19, 2013). That all changes today and in a monumental way.
After New York stunned the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in game two at Consol Energy Center, mainstream media did a 360 degree turn and started lauded the Isles for their grit and determination. Yeah, thanks ESPN….We already knew that.
Perhaps feeling a bit overconfident after taking a 3-1 first period lead, the Pens allowed themselves to be physically dominated and annoyed to the point where images of last season have to be creeping back into their heads. We shall see what today brings but there is one thing that I know Pittsburgh is not expecting. The crowd. If you are one of the lucky ones to be at the Coliseum today, be sure and look up at section 329 – The Blue and Orange Army. They will be representing. Stop by and show those boys some serious fan support.
Visiting teams are not often playing before sellouts in Long Island, never mind playoff sellouts. And this is an opportunity that the fans are not going to allow to go unnoticed. On the ice and off the ice all comes to a boiling point today in an odd 12pm EST start. The Isles have to be riding a tremendous emotional high after the events unfolded on Friday evening and all the inexperience, jitters and nervousness are all but gone at this point. It just comes down to one thing……playing the game.
With the aforementioned start time, there is no morning skate. Consider this morning’s Top Shelf to be your pre-game report leading into the faceoff, followed by Dump and Chase, our postgame recap, shortly thereafter.
For the Pens, Evgeni Malkin did not skate yesterday (maintenance day is assumed) and James Neal did, but for only 10 minutes before leaving. He would have to be considered doubtful for this afternoon. Brooks Orpik did not skate and is looking more and more likely to miss game three. With teams in complete informational shutdown mode, head coach Dan Bylsma did not divulge anything.
- Look ahead from Chris McNally at LHH.
- Official game preview from Islanders.com
- New York Post with a great quote at the end from John Tavares.
- The Post Gazette in Pittsburgh talks of the Isles confidence heading into game two.
- Jeff Hersh of the Hockey Writers on the lessons learned from game two.
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
- I was up at 6:10am and should not be this anxious this early in the morning. But at the end of the day, I would not have it ANY OTHER WAY!
- One of the most under-rated things in sport by some fans is how the crowd can really pump a team up and get them going. The goal today is to be as loud and crazy as possible while still being respectful. Enjoy the moment but act like we have been there before, because we have! Let’s set the standard and not follow the blueprint!
- Tailgaiting at 7:30am for a playoff game is exactly the experience that should be enjoyed on this beautiful Sunday morning. Let’s hope the boys got plenty of rest and can get their bodies amped up for a noon faceoff.
- This is not so much about what was said but all about the hashtags. Deserves to be highlighted. Fantastic.
Around The NHL
- The Washington Capitals held home ice with a 1-0 overtime victory over the New York Rangers yesterday and take a 2-0 series lead back to Madison Square Garden for game three on Monday evening. Mike Green blasted home the winner that was partially deflected by Derek Stepan after Ryan McDonagh took a delay of game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass unimpeded. Huge negative has to go to coach John Tortorella for this one, as that was the end of a 3 minute shift for the Rangers defenseman. Obviously, Torts still has not learned not to manage his players ice time for the good of the team. Fatigue is most often the obvious answer for unforced errors and this could have cost the Rangers a chance at winning this series.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs showed incredible resiliency, following the Islanders lead, by capturing game two at TD Bank Garden, defeating the Bruins 4-2. James Reimer was outstanding, stopping 39 of 41 Boston shots.
- Anaheim got the jump on the Detroit Red Wings behind a 23 save shutout by Jonas Hiller to take a 2-1 lead in their best of seven Western conference series.
- Slava Voynov wristed home the only goal in the 2nd period as the defending Stanley Cup champion, Los Angeles Kings, crawled back in their series, beating the St.Louis Blues. Jonathan Quick bounced back with a 30 save shutout and the Kings killed two big penalties in the 3rd period.
The Flyers must still be banging their head against the wall for trading James Van Riemsdyk….
I will leave you with this to get you amped up for today’s epic game three at the Coliseum. It is probably one of the best hockey videos I have ever seen. Be aware **EXPLICIT LANGUAGE BY COACHES**
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