New York Islanders: Predictions, notes, and major keys to beating the Penguins

New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

It is finally time for the New York Islanders to host a Stanley Cup Playoff series. It has been a long time since I have been able to type to words. Here are some notes, keys to winning, and my prediction vs the Penguins.

As you might have heard, Wednesday night is a big day for the New York Islanders as it will be the first time since before 1990 that they host the first game of a playoff series. That is honestly mind-blowing to think about. Personally, I am thrilled to write about it because I was not even alive the last time that happened. Anyway, here are some things to note.

I am sure you have a lot of other content to get to so I will try to keep this as quick as possible. The Islanders and Penguins will be squaring up in the playoffs for the second time in seven years and first time in a non-lockout season since 1993, when the Islanders ended the Penguins run of consecutive Cups.


More from New York Islanders

Overall, the Islanders somehow have the Penguins number when it comes to playoff Series. In 1975 the Isles edged out the Pens in seven games, in 1982 beat the Pens again, then 1993 was also in seven games before they met in 2013 when Pittsburgh won in six, but barely.

Overall, the Islanders are 109-104-22 vs the Penguins. Overall in the playoffs the Islanders are 144-120. The Penguins are 206-171 in the playoffs. The Islanders have five Cups winning them consecutively two different occasions, while the Islanders have four in a row. Neither franchise has ever made a standalone Stanley Cup final. When both teams had made it that far, they either returned the next season or made it the year prior.

This season, the Islanders are 2-1-1. They won a back-to-back against them and then lost and then lost in a shoot out.

In the last five meetings overall, the Islanders are 3-1-1. Dating back to the 2017-18 season, the last meeting ended in a 4-1 win against the Pens.

In the last five regular season games, Barry Trotz is also 3-1-1, this year with the Islanders and notching a win against them two years ago coaching the Caps.

Playoff wise, Isles Head Coach Barry Trotz ended the Penguins run of two straight Cups much like the Islanders did in the 1990s, last season Barry Trotz beat the Penguins in six games in the East Semi-Finals.

Heading into the playoffs, the Islanders are 4-1 in their last five and the Penguins are 2-3 in their last five. The Islanders are the hotter team.

This will be the first playoff series for the Islanders under the captainship of Anders Lee while Sidney Crosby has been Captain of the Penguins since 2007-2008 in which the Penguins have made it every year since.

The Penguins won both of their Game 1’s last season including both road openers. The Islanders won their last two Game 1’s of Series as well, both on the road. The last time the Islanders hosted a Game 1, they won in 1988. The Pens won Game 1 on the road just last year.

Both of these teams enter this series having lost their last playoff series they played in, both enter having finished top three in the Metropolitan Division this year, and both enter this game 0-0 in the playoffs this year.

Major Key #1

There are a plethora of keys for the Islanders to win this game. For starters, a good one would be to contain Sidney Crosby and his crew. This is still Crosby’s team and they have been solid the last few months of the season.

In reality, the major key is the Isles using their depth to overpower the Penguins. This year, the Penguins have seven players above the 30 point mark. As for the Islanders, they have eight. Each team has eight double-digit goal scorer.

Of the 271 goals the Penguins have scored this year, 102 of them come from Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, and Phil Kessel alone, that round out to 38% of their goals scored by three people.

As for the Islanders, they have 223 goals for and Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Casey Cizikas, their top three goal leaders only account for just 33% of all Islanders goals.

Defense is always the name of the game for the Islanders and always will be for every team in the playoffs, but to me, the major thing is the Isles using their depth better. The Islanders have the slight edge in terms of number of players who have been able to produce this season. If each team has their top three goal scores shut down, the Islanders have more production from the rest of their players.

Everything changes in the playoffs, teams can change their identity, but you can’t teach depth. The Islanders have that edge over the Penguins in terms of offensive production. The Isles might just be able to grind out those goals from their bottom line players that makes the difference.

Major Key #2

Another key for the Islanders is going to be the goaltending management of Barry Trotz. This year he has used two goalies, Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss to perfection. Both of them played in over 40 games. Both also have more than 20 wins and a GAA lower than 2.30. They also combined for 11 shutouts.

As for the Penguins, they too, have a goaltending duo that is not too shabby. Mostly due to Matt Murray getting injured, the Penguins’ split between Murray and Casey DeSmith, has been solid just not quite as solid as the Isles’.

Neither Pens goalies have a GAA less than 2.60. Neither of them have more than five shutouts (Murray has played the most total games of the bunch) and only Murray has 20 wins.

The Pens will likely go with just Murray, but DeSmith has seen significant time this year and is capable, if the Pens wanted to matchup with the Isles and have a two-goalies identity they could.

But, Murray has been carrying the load as a true number one while the Isles have been splitting two goalies. The Islander goalies do have better overall numbers and all have played significant time.

So, if Trotz mismanaged either one of them, it could be a problem. Murray is used to getting the reps, if Trotz shoots to do the same for an Islanders goalie, it could backfire.

Major Key #3 

Mathew Barzal needs to be ready to bring it. While this Islanders team is indeed all about team and not piling individual stats, they are going up against one of the best to ever do it in Sidney Crosby. He is the king of piling up stats while also being successful.

For the Islanders and Mathew Barzal to be successful, they must find the line between knowing when he has to step up and score and winning. The Islanders can’t get into their own heads about this. Much like Barzal who has 62 points but only 18 goals, Crosby is going to be a playmaker too, he has 100 points but just 35 of them are goals.

Neither need to pad the goal sheet, but both of them will need to be able to help their teams. If Crosby is notching multiple points a game, which he has 185 playoff points in 160 playoff games, then Barzal must be able to at least stay afloat.

Crosby is a play maker when it matters most. He knows when to score and he knows when to help score. What he also does is know how to win. I have already talked about how the Islanders have more depth and deeper means of productions, but in order for that to happen, they must not let Crosby single-handedly beat them. They must be in the games late in order to use that depth.

That all starts by not letting Mathew Barzal fall too far behind him. He is going to have to bring it each and every shift, which he talked about. 


Before you jump down my throat and say hateful things in the comment section and give me career advice, I must note that this is FanSided. This is Empire Writes Back and we cover New York Sports for FanSided. It is policy here that I do not have to be objective if I do not want to be. I still choose to give you facts and neutral opinions most of the time on my column, but yes, I still pick the Islanders to win this series.

I simply want the Islanders to win this series. I think that these two teams are as close as the standings and head to head matchups show, but I am tired of people picking against the Islanders. The Pens are a great team, a dynasty, but the Islanders can beat them.

Next. Bittersweet take on "him". dark

I’ll take the Islanders in six, just remember I am allowed to show my bias. I also think the Islanders will get at least one shutout during the series. Let’s see what happens.