Enjoy this final day off before Round 1 begins on Wednesday because it’s the last time your blood pressure and heart rate will be normal for a few weeks. Monday was a full day of news around the hockey world as teams returned to practice in preparation for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Everything starts Wednesday night with a five game slate of playoff hockey.
Start your final day of rest with a new edition of Pens Points...
Having three days off before the playoff begin on Wednesday gives the Penguins a chance to get some bodies back in the lineup. At Monday’s practice session, injured players Brian Dumoulin and Zach Aston-Reese were both on the ice in normal practice jerseys. [Pensburgh]
We dropped the puck on our first round preview Monday morning by breaking down the Islanders forward lines. First up was a look at the top-6 of the Islanders where big names like Matt Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson reside. [Pensburgh]
We also took a look at the depth of the Islanders by previewing their bottom-6 where familiar names like Valtteri Filppula and Casey Cizikas are sure to ring a bell. These four lines will give the Penguins defense fits all series long. [Pensburgh]
Now that the regular season has concluded and we wait for the playoffs, there is no better time to reflect back on some preseason predictions. Sidney Crosby went well over his predicted total points mark while Matt Murray and Phil Kessel fell a little short in other areas. [Pensburgh]
People in Pittsburgh love their hockey and the ratings are there to prove it. After being No. 2 last year, the Pittsburgh market skated right on past Buffalo to take over the No. 1 ratings spot for NBC & NBCSN games this season. [Trib Live]
Fifteen years ago, the Penguins finished dead last in the entire league with 58 points, just behind the Capitals and Blackhawks. As a reward(?) for being awful, they drafted Evgeni Malkin No. 2 overall. Although a terrible season, it may have saved hockey in the city of Pittsburgh long term. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
There will be a lot of familiarity when taking on the Islanders in the first round but it won’t just be with the players on the ice. This will be the fourth straight postseason the Penguins face Barry Trotz and his style of play can make it very difficult on an opponent. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Playoff hockey in Pittsburgh means the return of the big screen outside for fans to watch. The team announced Monday that the big screen will return but in a new location at the corner of Centre Ave. and Logan St. across from the arena. Gold Outs will also return for all home playoff games. [Penguins]
Before the season, goaltender Matt Murray pledged $30 to his “Saves MATTer” program to benefit local charities. This season, Murray recorded 1,465 saves for a total of $43,950 in donations. The Penguins donated an additional $30,000 to bring the grand total to $73,950. [Penguins]
When the Penguins take the ice on Wednesday night, you could see a few different line combinations. In an effort to help balance the scoring through the lineup, head coach Mike Sullivan split up Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel at practice on Monday. [Trib Live]
There is a bit of rivalry between the Penguins and Islanders though not nearly as bitter like the Capitals of Flyers. It won’t take long for a mutual hatred to boil up between the two sides, but don’t expect Sidney Crosby to throw any oil on that potential fire. [Trib Live]
The Islanders recipe for success this season was fairly straightforward and if you watched them much it was easy to spot. Goaltending was perhaps the biggest factor along with a well structured defense. If the Penguins are looking to gain an edge and find some daylight, winning the special teams battle will go a long way. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
While the players will be forming rivalries on the ice, we here at Pensburgh will be forming a blog rivalry with SBNation cohort Lighthouse Hockey. They will have all your Islanders coverage for this series so go check them out for an opposing view on the matchup.
The playoffs are a very stressful time for everyone involved and in the end only one fan base ends up happy. Now is a great time to remind yourself that the odds are not in your teams favor and a lot must go right to win the Stanley Cup. [Lighthouse Hockey]
News and notes from around the NHL...
It didn’t take long for the Florida Panthers to fill their head coaching vacancy after relieving Bob Boughner of his duties on Sunday. With talent in place and money to add more, the Panthers hired Joel Quenneville as their next head coach. [CBC]
For the 14 teams who didn't qualify for the postseason there is the NHL draft lottery which is set to take place tonight. The Colorado Avalanche have the best odds of winning the top pick for June’s draft with the Kings and Devils right behind. [NHL]