New York Islanders Vs Pittsburgh Penguins: Pre-Game Report

Eyes On Isles Pregame Report

Tonight , the New York Islanders (8-11-3, 19 Points) visit  the Pittsburgh Penguins  (14-8-0, 28 Points) in game no. 23 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…

Where: CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

When: Friday, November 22, 2013, 7:00PM

TV: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)

Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)

Tonight, the Isles look to turn things around after a pretty poor effort against the Maple Leafs. Kevin Poulin, the Isles newly anointed number 1 goalie, will get the start in net.

Earlier this season the Isles went into Pittsburgh and stunned the Penguins 4-3, in a pretty entertaining game, with a wild finish. With Thomas Vanek back in the lineup and reunited on the 1st line with John Tavares, expect some of the chemistry to return. It may take a lot longer than 1 game, but the Isles are hoping that the 2 marquee names on the team can really build a relationship, and we can see some nifty passing and scoring from this dynamic duo.

The Islanders have gone through their typical November funk and are currently in 14th place in the Conference, and dead last in the Metropolitan Division. However, a win tonight will vault them into 5th place, just 4 points behind the 2nd place Washington Capitals.

You hate to say a game in November is a must win, but things are getting pretty dire around these parts. How much longer can you keep a good team morale if all you do is blow leads, take stupid penalties and let up soft goals. The Isles are not being blown out. They are in the game most of the time. The problem is consistency, or inconsistency as the case may be. How’s this for consistency? If the Islanders don’t score 3 goals, they just do not win. I am not just saying that. They literally do not win. They are (0-10-1) when scoring less than 3 goals. This is a huge issue. The defense has been nothing less than atrocious. If the Islanders are to get anywhere this season, the defense and the special teams have to be better.

On a more positive note, Thomas Vanek will finally return after missing the last 5 games with an upper body muscle strain. Michael Grabner will be back after being scratched last game. Brock Nelson, Eric Boulton and Aaron Ness will be healthy scratches. Radek Martinek will take Ness’ place in the lineup. On the injury front,  Lubomir Visnovsky remains on IR with post-concussion symptoms. But, he has been riding a stationary bike. So, that’s a start.

Not quite sure what Brock Nelson has done to be scratched, when there are other unproductive members of the team (Josh Bailey, Colin McDonald) who should easily have been considered before Nelson.

What They’re Saying

We have to tighten up on our penalty kill. We have to take advantage of our opportunities and you’ll probably some line changes as well.”

-Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano in what quite possibly is the understatement of the season.
“I think with the five guys we have out there, especially with four forwards, you realize you have to be back in most situations. You just try to distribute the puck and if something happens, you are ready to get back. Whoever is in, whether it is me or (Letang) or the both of us, we have all worked on the power play enough to realize where we should be and what we should do.”

-Penguins Defenseman Paul Martin

Quick Hitters

  • John Tavares is 3rd in the league in scoring with 25 points. Sidney Crosby leads the league with 28
  • Casey Cizikas has scored in 3 straight games, the longest of his career
  • Kevin Poulin will make his career high fifth straight start.
  • The Islanders are 2-9-2 when they allow a PPG, and 6-2-1 when they do not.
  • How important is it that the Isles score 3 goals? They are 8-1-2 when they do and 0-10-1 when they do not.
  • This is the first of back to back games for the Islanders.

Projected Lineup

26 Thomas Vanek– 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
40 Michael Grabner – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard – 16 Peter Regin – 13 Colin McDonald
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck

47 MacDonald – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 46 Donovan
4 Martinek– 7 Carkner

Scratches: 55 Aaron Ness, 29 Brock Nelson, 36 Eric Boulton

Injured Reserve: 11 Visnovsky, 20 Nabokov, 37 Strait

60 Poulin
45 Nilsson