For the second time in three seasons and for the sixth time in franchise history, the Islanders will face the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This Sunday, the Isles and Pens will square off in game one of their best of seven opening round East Division playoff series in Pittsburgh (Noon NBC)
After a COVID-19 shortened and condensed 56 game regular season, the Islanders are ready for their third straight trip to the playoffs.
“It’s always nice when the regular season is over and you have something to play for,” said Islanders forward Leo Komarov. “It’s nice to be in these games.”
Islanders vs Penguins Round One Schedule:
Game 1 Islanders at Penguins Sunday May 16th at Noon
Game 2 Islanders at Penguins Tuesday May 18th at 730pm
Game 3 Penguins at Islanders Thursday May 20th at 7pm
Game 4 Penguins at Islanders Saturday May 22nd at 3pm
*Game 5 Islanders at Penguins Monday May 24th TBD
*Game 6 Penguins at Islanders Wednesday May 26th TBD
*Game 7 Islanders at Penguins Friday May 28th TBD
During the regular season the Islanders played all of their games within the East Division and that meant eight meetings with the Penguins with Pittsburgh winning six of the eight games. To say that these two teams know each other well would be an understatement.
“They’re a good hockey team,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. They’re well coached with (Mike Sullivan) and his staff and they’ve got the gold standard in (Sidney) Crosby (along with) (Evgeni) Malkin and they’ve added (Jeff) Carter.
Despite the fact that the Islanders struggled against the Penguins during the regular season, the playoffs mean a fresh start and for the Islanders it’s back to business after a run to the Eastern Conference Final in the bubble last season. The Penguins are step one towards the Islanders not only getting to what will be the NHL Semifinals this season but to complete their mission statement of winning a Stanley Cup.
“It’s a great team we’re facing,” said Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck. “That being said, we’re a pretty good team too. It’s going to be a great series.”
“They’re obviously a good team,” said Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech. “We gotta prepare as much as we can before (game one on Sunday).”
In any playoff series that the Islanders have played under Trotz, the battle plan going into a series is for the Isles to focus on their game while also doing their homework on the opponent. In this situation, having played the Penguins eight times during the regular season, this Islanders have been spending time this week refining their game and that includes working on their struggling power play.
“We’re going to prepare our game,” said Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock. “We’re getting ready to go to war and I’m sure they’re doing the same thing. I think it’s going to be a fun series. We like to be a physical team and we’re going to have to try and use that to our advantage.”
The Islanders have beaten the Penguins in four of the previous post-season series including a four-game sweep in the opening round two seasons ago. That was the Islanders’ first playoff series with Barry Trotz behind their bench and a lot has happened since that time including the NHL pausing their season last March because of the pandemic and last season’s deep playoff run.
“Tt seems like a decade ago that playoff series I’ll tell you that,” said Trotz.
“The last series was a long time ago,” said Pelech. “I think that in general this is a group that has performed well in the playoffs and we have confidence heading into the playoffs and we’re all very excited to get started.”
And now, Islanders vs Penguins in the playoffs round six will commence on Sunday. There have been many memorable moments in the previous five playoff series between these teams including the Islanders rallying from three games to none down to win the series in 1975, David Volek’s overtime goal in game seven of the 1993 Patrick Division Final, the Islanders scoring two late goals to tie game five of the 1982 series before John Tonelli scored the series winning goal in overtime and Josh Bailey’s overtime goal in game one of the 2019 series.
Starting at Noon on Sunday, it’s a chance for some new memories in the Islanders vs Penguins rivalry.