In the first round of the 2013 NHL Playoffs the Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the New York Islanders. Pittsburgh was bounced in the first round last year, and they are looking to avenge their early exit. This will be the first time since 2007 that the New York Islanders will skate on playoff ice. To use a classic sports cliché, this will be David vs. Goliath. The Penguins are the number one ranked team in the Eastern Conference, and the Islanders are number 8.
How They Match up
A deeper look into this series shows that the only advantage the Islanders may have is between the pipes. Starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has a playoff GAA of 2.29 and a SV% of .913, his playoff record is 40-38-7. His counterpart for Pittsburgh is Marc-Andre Fleury who has a GAA of 2.68 and a SV% of .904 with an overall playoff record of 43-32-5.Both teams do have prolific goal scorers. The Penguins top three scorers are Sidney Crosby with 56 regular season points, Chris Kunitz with 52 points, and Pascal Dupuis with 38 points. The playoff experience of Pittsburgh is clear in just three player’s playoff point totals; Crosby, 90 points, Kunitz 48 points, and Dupuis with 33 playoff points. The Islanders have very few players who have skated in a playoff game. Their top 3 scores are John Tavares 47 regular season points, Matt Moulson 44 points, and Brad Boyes with 35 points. Of the Islanders top three point producers, only Boyes has played in the playoffs, scoring only 4 points.
Keys To The Penguins Success
If the Penguins want to win this as easily as they should they will need to keep the pressure on the young Islanders. They are young, they don’t know any better and they will come out with their hair on fire. Marc-Andre Fleury needs to shut the door early. If he can discourage the Islanders this series should get off to a good start for Pittsburgh. The Pens will need to stay calm and play their game. If they can they will be playing in round two.
Keys To The Islanders Success
The Islanders don’t stand a chance on paper, but this is the NHL playoffs and anything can happen. If the Islanders are going to win this series they will need to find a way to out skate the Penguins. The Islanders do have a playoff tested goaltender in Nabokov and he provides their best chance at winning the series. If Nabokov can keep things close and freeze the puck often it may give young stars like Tavares some added confidence and a jump in his legs A lot of this series will be won in the first period of game one. The Islanders will need to ride out the opening rush of the Penguins. If they can do that they may have a punchers chance at a victory.
The Penguins won the regular season series 4 games to 1, and I don’t see this series going past game 6. The Penguins should win this series. (4 games to 2)
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