The Islanders and Penguins always get along so well when they come together on the ice. Their last three meetings last season saw all hell break loose featuring such hits as Rick DiPietro getting knocked out by Brent Johnson in their February 3 game, a full-scale on-ice riot breaking out just over a week later that led to Pens owner Mario Lemieux shaming the league for not taking stronger action against the Isles, and an April 8 affair that saw the teams renew their hate one last time.
If you needed a full-scale visual reminder of how things happened last year, Kevin Schultz at Islanders Point Blank has you covered there.
While some of the parties involved in last season’s shenanigans are still around (Trevor Gillies, Blake Comeau, Brent Johnson) things don’t figure to get so hairy this time around. Then again, with the front end of a home-and-home series kicking off tonight on Long Island, you never can be too sure.
The Isles head into things mostly healthy but finding their way around still. Pittsburgh continues to be banged up and with Zbynek Michalek now out for 4-6 weeks with a broken finger, the tough-as-nails version of the Penguins is what the Isles will see. While the Isles don’t lack in toughness, they’ll need to deal with the Penguins’ aggressive style and not give them chances on the power play.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, would like to get through these games without another injury and, likely, without another sideshow developing at their expense. It’s not quite a powder keg situation, but old hate doesn’t take much to get reignited.