Just before the break, the Isles couldn't muster a goal past Marc-Andre Fleury and the Crosby- and Malkin-less Penguins. That 1-0 loss was a goalie duel (with Kevin Poulin on the losing end), but tonight both teams are coming off better offensive showings, the Pens having put three past Henrik Lundqvist last night at the Garden and the Isles having scored four on Atlanta while Poulin, again, allowed only one.
NOTE: Tonight's game is on Versus, but it's listed on MSG+ too. Good luck.
Islanders (16-27-7, 14th/E) @ Penguins (32-15-4, 3rd/E)
[mountaintop removal and such] Center
7 p.m. EST | VERSUS, MSG+ - audio - WRHU 88.7
Flightless, but not Foul: PensBurgh
It initially looked like Jordan Staal would be the third Penguins star to miss this one after his match penalty last night for sucker punching Brandon Prust. But, um, uh, no:
An automatic one-game suspension applies when a player is given a match penalty, but the league chose to rescind the ban. ... "We have reviewed the play and have communicated to (Penguins GM) Ray Shero that Jordan Staal is available to play tonight," NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said.
I'm sure the league would review an Islander's offense with the same deliberate care for context and circumstance.
Seriously, I'm open to discussion -- we had some in last night's recap -- on that incident and whether the league should reverse "automatic" policy on the match penalty. But the league is not open to such discussion: Although the league survives by the money of its fans, it (or its representative in Campbell) does not see fit that fans deserve to hear or understand the reasoning behind why Staal doesn't have to sit.
There may be a very elaborate and legit reason, but we won't ever hear it unless they get badgered enough to do one of those "okay just this once we'll talk" explanations. All you need to know is that Campbell told Shero that Staal can play tonight. If you wanna know why this situation is different, well tough. Go sit down and shut up.
I am flippant about this topic -- the circular, seasonal logic of Cambell's office frankly turns my stomach -- but to put it plainly: The league's disciplinary office rarely explains these decisions. When they do, such as in Campbell's occasional sitdown with Ron McLean, they generally come off looking foolish and inconsistent. So they don't bother. The news releases rarely mention details as to why, only that He Has Spoken. And when the next incident comes along, we are only left to guess which relative flavor of reasoning Campbell & Friends will choose this week.
- With the travel and the back-to-back, not a lot of information out for tonight as of mid-day. No injuries reported, and yesterday Jack Capuano hadn't ruled out playing Poulin back-to-back here, but money is still on Rick DiPietro starting unless there is a malady.
- Check Islanders on Twitter and Newsday's Katie Strang on Twitter, as well as Pens beat writer Rob Rossi and the Post-Gazette's hockey blog feed (Empty Netters).
- The Penguins won in a shootout last night, but it took
a late Rangers goal with the goalie pulled to get to OT. Pittsburgh was just 17 seconds away from winning it in regulationtook a second period rally before the Rangers tied it with seven seconds left in the SECOND period. (Sorry for the horrible mis-info, folks; I must've read a boxscore and a TOI sheet completely wrong.)
- Hard to argue for any lineup changes after last night's win, though if there is a wound on defense I know many fans would be keen to get a look at Ty Wishart.
The Matchup: So Pittsburgh leads the season series 2-0-1 and despite these teams being at opposite ends, it's harder to call. The Pens are without their two featured scorers, the Isles have Kyle Okposo back (2 goals, 1 assist last night) and a hot Michael Grabner fueling that line with Frans Nielsen. All three previous meetings were one-goal affairs (or in the Islanders' win, a tie with a shootout placed on top like a can of Redi-Whip).
- Elsewhere, Dwayne Roloson picked up another shutout last night, 4-0 over the Flyers, and the Lightning have now put Mike Smith on waivers; Smith had been on a two-week conditioning stint with Norfolk leading into the break, but now they're making the hard decision on one of the main pieces they got in the Brad Richards trade. Keeping with the Bolts, they also recently extended ex-Isle Nate Thompson to a two-year contract.
This is the In-Game Thread
Short turnaround from last night and no new content coming before game time, so consider this your game thread. Which means get your FIG picks in (via reply to the first FIG comment) and do your regular thing.
Let's go Islanders.