Skip to content

Five Q’s: Penguins-Islanders series preview

May 1, 2013, 11:47 AM EDT

TavaresOrpik

1. When will Sidney Crosby return?

This question will linger over this series until No. 87 is on the lineup card.

Crosby has been out of action since Mar. 30 — when he suffered a broken jaw against the Islanders, ironically enough — and the dynamic of this matchup depends largely on his availability.

Why? Crosby’s scoring exploits against the Isles, mostly.

In 41 career games, Sid the Kid’s racked up 75 points against New York — the most he’s scored against any NHL club.

He also has a history of making big returns against the Isles. In Nov. 2011, he triumphantly returned from a concussion by scoring four points (2G, 2A) in a 5-0 whitewashing — his first game back after a 10-month layoff.

Update: Crosby has officially been ruled out for Game 1.

2. Is it Tavares’ time?

The second major subplot in this series will be the playoff debut of John Tavares, the 22-year-old phenom that led the Isles in scoring this year and has garnered serious Hart Trophy consideration.

This has been the most successful campaign of Tavares’ four-year career. He dominated the Swiss League during the lockout and was a point-a-game player in Team Canada’s Spengler Cup win.

When NHL play resumed, he continued that point-per-game clip and finished as the league’s third-leading goalscorer (28), pushing the Isles to their first playoff appearance since 2007.

All that said, this is Tavares’ first postseason. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the increased physical play and (presumably) being shadowed for the entirety of the series.

3. Can Iginla and Morrow be difference-makers?

Pens GM Ray Shero was the undisputed power broker at April’s trade deadline, bringing in a quartet of veterans: Jussi Jokinen, Douglas Murray, Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla.

It’s the latter two that will draw the most attention.

Morrow, 34, and Iginla, 35, are both looking for their first Stanley Cups, but will be counted on to play different roles than they did in Dallas and Calgary, respectively.

They used to be captains and front-line players. Now, they’re being asked to provide veteran experience and compliment a forward group featuring young stars like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

That’s not to say there aren’t big expectations.

Iginla has 49 points in 54 career playoff games and led the Flames to the 2004 Cup final, scoring 13 times.

Morrow’s last playoff run saw him notch 15 points in 18 games as he led the Stars to the Western Conference finals.

4. Will Fleury bounce back?

There are two Marc-Andre Fleurys.

The first is the acrobatic, flair-for-the-dramatic guy that backstopped the Pens to the 2009 Stanley Cup.

The other is the shaky, erratic guy that finished last postseason with a 4.63 GAA and .834 save percentage.

If Pittsburgh has any hopes of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Mug, the first Fleury will need to show up.

The 28-year-old acknowledged as much in speaking with NHL.com.

“That [’09 Cup] was a lot more fun than last year, that’s for sure,” he explained. “But you just learn from it. You learn from what happened in the past and try to use it to improve and be ready for these playoffs coming up.”

5. Can the Isles steal one (or more) on the road?

The top-seeded Penguins have home ice advantage, which might suit New York just fine.

The Isles have been road warriors this year, posting a 14-6-4 record away from Nassau — the third best road mark in the Eastern Conference.

The No. 8 seed knows that in order to capture this series, it’ll need to win at least one game at Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins are a stellar 18-6-0 this year.

It’s a challenge head coach Jack Capuano recognizes, and is ready to take on.

“[Pittsburgh] is ranked where they are for a reason. They’ve got some of the best players in the world,” Capuano told CBS New York. “But your ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup.

“If you’re going to get to the Stanley Cup you’ve got to beat the best teams.”

For all the first-round playoff previews, click here.

Latest Posts
  1. Ribeiro, Preds continue to negotiate an extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:55 PM EDT

    Mike Ribeiro Mike Ribeiro

    David Poile has made the 35-year-old an offer and given him a deadline.

  2. NHL, Coyotes deny report that team is moving to Vegas

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    Las Vegas Arena Construction Site Tour Getty Images

    But this isn’t the first time such a scenario has been reported.

  3. Sharks sign Jones to a three-year, $9 million extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    martinjonesap AP

    San Jose acquired him from Boston earlier in the day.

  4. Islanders ink Anders Lee to a four-year, $15 million extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 06: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Rexall Place on March 06, 2014 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Getty Images

    He was set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.

  5. Wings buy out Weiss after two rocky seasons

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:27 PM EDT

    Stephen Weiss Getty Images

    Detroit’s creating an opportunity for one of its young forwards.

  6. Trade: Oilers get Korpikoski from Coyotes for Gordon

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT

    Lauri Korpikoski Getty Images

    Arizona is getting back its former center.

  7. Saad, Jackets working on an extension ‘as we speak’

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT

    Brandon Saad Brandon Saad

    He’s set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.

  8. Report: Richards’ border incident involved oxycodone

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:36 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers Getty Images

    He hasn’t been charged with a crime, but is reportedly being investigated.

  9. Ducks stay busy, name former Adams winner MacLean assistant coach

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT

    Paul MacLean AP

    Won NHL’s coach of the year in 2013 with Ottawa.

  10. Trade: Bieksa headed to California — but it’s Anaheim, not San Jose

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:07 PM EDT

    Kevin Bieksa Getty Images

    Where he’ll be reunited with former teammate Ryan Kesler.

  11. Treliving, Flames not concerned about ‘noise’ coming out of Boston

    Jun 30, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    Brad Treliving Brad Treliving

    Calgary’s GM responded to comments in a Boston Herald story regarding defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

  12. Trade: Jackets land Saad, Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago

    Jun 30, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Getty Images

    A total of seven players involved in Tuesday’s trade.

  13. Detroit signs Smith to two-year, $5.5 million extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT

    Brendan Smith AP

    RFA defenseman appeared in a career-high 76 games last year.

  14. Defensemen Hunwick, Bartkowski to become UFAs

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Seven Getty Images

    Rangers and Bruins let their respective rearguards walk, thereby deepening the free agent pool.

  15. Hamilton signs six-year deal with Flames

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:04 PM EDT

    Dougie Hamilton AP

    Cap hit around $5.75 million.

  16. No buyout: Flyers will keep Gagner

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT

    Arizona Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    Former first-round pick is relieved after a “stressful” last few days.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Hamilton (2214)
  2. M. Richards (1991)
  3. C. Talbot (1984)
  4. S. Gagner (1833)
  5. R. O'Reilly (1830)
  1. E. Etem (1652)
  2. R. Lehner (1597)
  3. A. Niemi (1571)
  4. M. Lucic (1532)
  5. C. Pronger (1396)