The NHL regular season is just around the corner. In anticipation, Eyes on Isles takes a look at every team in our division. What have they done to their roster, have they improved, and how will the New York Islanders fair against them?
The Pittsburgh Penguins had our number last season. Going one for four in the regular season. They also dealt us a very embarrassing 5-0 loss at the tail end of the season. A loss that made us second guess everything about the New York Islanders.
This is the sixth-part in a seven-part series previewing every team in the Metro Division and how each team in the division stacks up against the Isles. What can we expect from these teams going into 2016-17? Here’s a link to the other previews:
Additions and Subtractions
The Penguins haven’t added anyone of note to their roster. And why should they? They just won the Stanley Cup. And like every cup champion in the salary cap era, they had to shed some weight, by losing Ben Lovejoy and Beau Bennett.
Neither are the big losses that we’ve seen Chicago have to ditch after their cup victories, which means the 2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins return in their entirety for the 2016-17 season. Look-out NHL.
This year, however, the Pens won’t have to fumble around for almost three months with an ineffective coach and a system that doesn’t suit their strengths. This year, they start on day one with Mike Sullivan.
But by that same token, coaches from around the league have had months to figure out the Penguins system (Hint: it’s a speed game). The novelty is no longer there, and teams should no longer be caught off-guard by Pittsburgh tactics.
Last season the Islanders had a losing record against the Penguins. Going one-for-three losing by a combined score of 13-5.
The Penguins gave us our worst defeat of the season back in April. A 5-0 loss just over a week from the end of the regular season. That loss was a blow. The Isles were forced to look at themselves in the mirror and reveal the ugly truth: we just weren’t good enough.
Normally quiet team captain John Tavares spoke to the media after the loss saying: “We went out there and got embarrassed because we didn’t play hard enough. This time of year, that is unacceptable,[…]. Everyone has to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves how much they want it.”
The Isles would regroup from the loss, winning three straight. But the effects of that loss still linger. Are the Isles really at the level they aspire to be? If so, losing 5-0 doesn’t happen.
The Penguins are likely going to be at the top of the Metropolitan division again this year, taking one of those coveted automatic playoff positions. The Isles need to grab on the remaining two, that means maximizing interdivisional points against teams like the Penguins.