With the Penguins vs. Islanders series we got a chance to catch up with Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey, you're really missing out if you don't give them some attention, they'll have the other perspective covered.
What are your expectations for the playoffs? It's impressive and a big step for the Isles to go from last place team to playoff team, but with that the playoffs are starting, now what?
Basically, this is a step we've seen so many growing teams go through: They finally make it to the playoffs, now do they get overwhelmed and baptized by fire, or do they keep doing what got them here? The Islanders' play over the last month has been legitimately good -- not lucky or bounce-based, they've actually been outplaying teams regularly.
My expectation is there will be moments where they're caught off guard by the escalation in intensity that the playoffs provide, but that they stick to what got them here enough to make this a tough series. This should be much better than the West's 1 vs. 8 series.
If things break just right, how do the Islanders give the Pens a good series?How the Isles can do it: Well, exploiting Fleury enough to win games but not so much that they see Vokoun would help. Vokoun tends to have their number. The second line must continue to produce and be good both ways -- a tall order when they'll see a lot of Crosby and/or Malkin. And they'll need that proverbial bonus contribution from the third or fourth lines. Michael Grabner and Colin McDonald need to have some big moments.
Assuming Crosby returns early in the series, which defensive pair do you think they'll match to his line (with Dupuis-Iginla) and who gets the draw against Malkin (with Kunitz-Neal)?
Defensively, look for Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald to take the tough matchups. Mark Streit has been third pair carrying whichever #7 is in the lineup, but with the return of Brian Strait as his partner he might get a bigger role. Lubomir Visnovsky and Thomas Hickey flat out tilt the ice, but the Isles may try to keep them from too many defensive assignments.