A FAMILIAR OPPONENT
I spoke to a lot of the guys today about playing a team that they are so familiar with and the challenges the Islanders present. They had some fantastic insight on the series...
As Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton came off the ice after practice and started removing his hockey equipment at his stall, the media started to hover around the former Islander. Eaton saw the crowd gathering and joked with a smile that he didn’t have any inside information on the team he had played the previous two seasons with, who the Penguins will meet in the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But all banter aside, the Penguins have plenty of intel on the Islanders – an opponent they are very familiar with. Both teams played in the Atlantic Division, meaning they met six times a season before this one was shortened because of the lockout (and they ended up playing each other five times this year anyway).
Coach Dan Bylsma said that defenseman Brooks Orpik, who missed the last two games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, skated this morning before practice. "Everything else is game-time as far as our lineup and who will be playing," Bylsma said.
Also, there is no change in Sidney Crosby's status. He will see the doctor Tuesday and will go from there. "Just going for an appointment and see what happens," he said. "I don’t have any control over it, so there’s no point in getting too worked up about it."
Mark Eaton spent the last 2 seasons with the Islanders
Neal is back
He's reunited with linemate Malkin
Crosby and Dupuis
Letang bears down on Fleury
--Michelle Crechiolo and Wes Crosby
PENGUINS PRACTICE INFO
Brooks Orpik (lower body) is the only player missing from practice. Joe Vitale, who missed the last four games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, has rejoined the team.
Here are the lines and D pairings the Penguins used...
PENS-ISLANDERS SERIES STORYLINES The Islanders are a team the Penguins are very familiar with as they both play in the Atlantic Division. The Penguins won the regular-season series with the Islanders, 4-1 – the sixth straight season Pittsburgh has finished with a winning record against their Atlantic Division opponent, who is making its first postseason appearance since 2007. Overall, the Penguins are 16-4-1 in their last 21 meetings with the Islanders. That being said, the Islanders do enter the postseason one of the NHL's hottest teams, having gone 11-2-4 in their final 17 games.
START THE DAY
Good morning Penguins fans! It's the most wonderful time of the year -- PLAYOFFS!!! The regular season concluded last night after the Bruins and Senators played their rescheduled game, which means the postseason has officially begun. All of the seedings and matchups were finalized as soon as that contest ended, and with the Senators winning in regulation No. 1 Pittsburgh will play the No. 8 New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Game 1 will be Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center - the full schedule and broadcast information is here.
After having Sunday off, the Penguins are practicing today at Southpointe (their skate is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.). All practices here and at CONSOL Energy Center are closed to the public during the playoffs, but don't fret -- we will have all the coverage here!
Let's start with a song that my boss Sam Kasan is currently obsessed with - Krewella's "Alive." That's how I feel right now, even being dead tired from being at the office with our staff until the early hours of the morning doing postseason prep -- because the playoffs are finally here! This is what we've been waiting for. (And hopefully the techno beat will wake us all up).
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