Better know an Opponent: The New York Islanders
Record: 4-8-1 (9 points, last in the Atlantic Division)
Notable wins: at NY Rangers
Notable losses: Montreal, at Philadelphia, Carolina
Last game: 4-3 loss Thursday night at Atlanta
Statistical star: Three players tied at 11 points (Mark Streit [4g, 7a], Trent Hunter [5g, 6a], Doug Weight [2g, 9a]
Disappointment so far: Jeff Tabellini [0 goals, 1 assist, -5 in 11 games]
Notable Notes: The Isles only have five players with an even or better plus/minus rating and other than our old friend Richard "The Penguin killer" Park, none have played more than six games...And, interstingly enough as the PG pointed out, the Isles are just 1-6-1 when defensemen Mark Streit registers a point
Well the news is in and it is good, via NHL.com Sidney Crosby will play tonight. He's believed to still be a little salty in the hip area from some sort of weird, undisclosed injury that happened during the Phoenix game when it appeared he took an unintentional stick into said hip region.
For the Penguins though tonight will be an interesting game. While they are on the road against a divisional opponent, this ought to be a win. The Islanders and tied with Florida for the lowest number of points in the standings so far this season (and the Panthers have a game in hand). No one is expecting much out of the Fishsticks this year and they are not disappointing. With franchise goalie Rick DiPietro still on the shelf, the Isles are giving up 3.46 goals per game this year and have only been scoring 2.46.
But as we saw on Thursday night, if you take a period off in this league any team can make up a lot of ground in a hurry. If the Penguins don't show up, they won't win. Simple as that. They've been taught this lesson a number of times this season, like when Washington got back from a 3-0 deficit, or when the Rangers climbed out of a 2-0 whole in the 3rd period and obviously just last game when Edmonton scored 4 straight goals late in the game.
Getting an early lead is good and exactly what the Pens should do, but generating that killer instinct and giving a 60 minute effort is even more critical to winning the game. Hopefully by now they realize it. Tonight could be the perfect way to show it, against what is on paper as an inferior opponent.
TST Opposing Player to Watch: Richard Park
--When you play the Isles guys like Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie and Trent Hunter need to be minded. But Richard Park has feasted on his former team the Penguins, scoring 4 goals and 5 assists in 20 career games. That seems modest but consider Park has a career point/game figure of .31 (172 points in 545 games). Also Park has six points in seven contests at home this season and as we mentioned is the Islander to play in all games and have an even +/- rating.
TST Homeboy of the Game: Miroslav Satan
--Gotta go with Satan against his former teammates here...Satan, with 8 goals in 13 games, is now on pace for a 50 goal season. While he's not Marian Hossa, he's a lot better of a winger than the other guys Sidney Crosby has ever had--Colby Armstrong, old ass Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone, etc. Satan has been feeling it lately