Here we go. After the most unique season in NHL history, the playoffs have arrived. There is no better trophy in all of sports than the Stanley Cup. It is the hardest trophy to win and that makes it the most satisfying. This season, the format for the playoffs is a little different. With the new division alignment, the first two rounds will continue to be intra-division play. When those two rounds are over, the four remaining teams will compete in the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. We will start with the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
We start off the previews for this unique playoff year with a great series for the NHL. The New York Islanders finished in the fourth seed in the East Division. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the champions of the East Division and took first place. This series will see a wide variety of styles of play from each team. Overall, it will be one of the most physical series out all the series around the league.
We have a date with the Islanders.
…we just don't know the date.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 12, 2021
Each team definitely has a huge amount of skill throughout their lineup. The Penguins have proven in recent years that they are a Stanley Cup contender. Sidney Crosby has led this team all the way to three titles and he looks to add a fourth. His line alongside Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust is a line to have your eye on. Kris Letang is one of the most lethal offensive defensemen in the NHL who can produce a lot of points for his team.
The Islanders have a lot of talent in their lineup. The loss of Anders Lee for the rest of the season is a huge blow, but they have options. Newly acquired forward Kyle Palmieri is looking to produce some offense in these playoffs. He hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2018. Matt Barzal is still one of the most lethal scorers in the league. Offense will come to plenty in this series from both teams. I would not want to be a goalie when facing one of these teams.
Penguins – Sidney Crosby (24)
Islanders – Brock Nelson (18)
Penguins – Sidney Crosby (38)
Islanders – Nick Leddy (29)
Penguins – Sidney Crosby (62)
Islanders – Mathew Barzal (45)
Each team has a great tandem in between the pipes. Pittsburgh elected to trade two-time Stanley Cup Champion Matt Murray to Ottawa over the offseason. In response, the two goalies of Tristen Jarry and Casey DeSmith have been fantastic for Pittsburgh. In Long Island, Semyon Varlamov has been amazing these last two seasons. The emergence of rookie Ilya Sorokin gives the Islanders some comfortable options as the playoffs get longer and more intense.
Tristen Jarry (25-9-2) – 2.75 GAA and 0.909 Save Percentage.
Semyon Varlamov (19-11-4) – 2.04 GAA and 0.929 Save Percentage
History In The Playoffs
These teams are no strangers to one another when it comes to playing each other in the playoffs. There have been some iconic moments in the history of this matchup. One of the most iconic moments in NHL history was when the Islanders upset over Pittsburgh in 1993. David Volek scored in overtime in Game 7 against Pittsburgh to eliminate the two-time defending champion Penguins.
The history does not stop there. In 2013, the Islanders and Penguins faced off in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals. The Islanders put up a good fight against the first-place Penguins, but Pittsburgh took that series in six games. The two teams would meet again in the 2019 playoffs. That series was all Islanders. Led by stellar defense and great goaltending from Robin Lehner, the Islanders swept the Penguins in four games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have home-ice advantage for this series. With the history between these two teams, home ice had played an important role with these series. It will be interesting to see how the road team performs as the series gets longer and more physical.
We’ve got our Round 1️⃣ Schedule! 👏🗓 pic.twitter.com/GNQlltyNmZ
— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 13, 2021
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