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Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 3:13 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins, Cooke solely focused on winning

PITTSBURGH -- If people still are talking about a feud between the Ottawa Senators and Matt Cooke, no one in the Pittsburgh Penguins' locker room is.

With the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the teams starting Tuesday, issues surrounding Cooke and the Senators -- Cooke is blamed for the Achilles injury that sidelined Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson for more than two months -- have become an afterthought among the players.

"That's all outside the locker room," Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis said. "It's media, it's Twitter, it's Facebook. It's not stuff that [concerns us]."

"The off-ice stuff and accusations and that stuff, it does not play into the series for our team," added Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "We're definitely not going to make it a part of the series for our team. Whether there's emotion there on their side -- I don't think so. I think they'll be focused on winning four hockey games."

Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 8:47 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Crosby leaves Game 5 with injury

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby went to the dressing room with two minutes to play in the second period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Islanders after blocking a shot with his left foot.

The team provided no immediate update on his condition or status.

Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Kennedy, Vitale likely to make debuts for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- If, as many believe, speed is the area in which the Pittsburgh Penguins are at a distinct disadvantage against the New York Islanders, Dan Bylsma appears to have decided to do something about it.

The Penguins coach had Tyler Kennedy and Joe Vitale taking part in line rushes, and Simon Despres was paired with Norris Trophy finalist Kris Letang for the morning skate Thursday in advance of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series that is tied two games apiece.

Keeping with his policy, Bylsma did not discuss his lineup with the media. But Kennedy and Vitale were talking as if they were on the verge of making their 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debuts.

"For sure, excited to get back out there, excited to get with the guys," Vitale said. "It's been tough watching in the press box, as anyone will tell you.

"I'm not going to change anything. My game is pretty simple: a lot of speed, lot of energy, some tenacity, be responsible in the defensive zone, and kind of be a lift for the guys."

Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 2:13 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders will feel MacDonald's loss in many ways

PITTSBURGH -- With more than 23 minutes of ice time per game suddenly gone from the New York Islanders blue line, more than one defenseman will have to step up.

Andrew MacDonald, who led the Islanders in average ice time throughout the regular season, is out with an injury that Newsday reported is a broken hand that will keep him out for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As New York preps to face the No. 1 seed Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN), a sizable hole must be plugged.

"It's a big loss," veteran defenseman Radek Martinek said. "You can't replace a guy like that. Just you have to fill in the best you can."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:32 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Vokoun to replace Fleury in net for Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the New York Islanders on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

The 36-year-old, a 14-year NHL veteran, went 13-4-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and three shutouts during the regular season for Pittsburgh, which signed him to a two-year contract this offseason to back up longtime Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury.

But Fleury has struggled in this series, including allowing six goals on 24 shots in a 6-4 loss on Long Island in Game 4 on Tuesday that evened the best-of-7 series at two games apiece. That ballooned Fleury's postseason goals-against average to 3.40. Since a shutout in Game 1, Fleury has allowed 14 goals in the past three games, losing two.

Vokoun will be making his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six years.

"We brought Tomas Vokoun in to play big games for us and be a goaltender we could count on to go in and play big games," coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's done that this year for us and he has been very good against the Islanders in three games he's played against the Islanders. We're getting a guy who's real capable at going in and has been a great goalie for us."

Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 1:59 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Return of Crosby just another challenge for Islanders

PITTSBURGH -- You'd think the last thing the New York Islanders would want coming off a 5-0 loss to a team that has won 24 of its past 28 games is for that opponent to welcome back its leading scorer and NHL MVP candidate into the lineup.

The reaction of New York's Frans Nielsen to the Pittsburgh Penguins announcing that Sidney Crosby will play in Friday's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 2? Bring it on.

"He's one of the best players in the world," Nielsen said after Friday's morning skate. "So it's a challenge -- and that's something that everyone who's involved with sports loves. It makes you more excited. It's always fun playing against the good players."

Crosby told reporters he was cleared to play, and the Penguins' official website and Twitter account announced he was returning in Game 2 to play for the first time since sustaining a broken jaw during his first shift of a game against the Islanders on March 30.

Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 1:37 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders could switch lines in search for spark

PITTSBURGH -- With the New York Islanders having produced all of two goals over their past three games, coach Jack Capuano acknowledged there could be a shakeup in his forward lineup.

The top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes combined for one goal over the final two regular-season games and Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. As the Islanders search for answers for Game 2 on Friday, swapping out Tavares' linemates remains firmly on the table.

"We haven't generated too much from that line," Capuano said, "so you probably could see some movement around."

As NHL coaches are wont to do during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Capuano said he would not discuss lineup changes specifically. But he did drop some hints.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 2:22 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Ex-Pens properties Moulson, Strait thriving for Isles

PITTSBURGH -- As if being heavy underdogs to what they hear many people are calling the Stanley Cup favorites for a first-round playoff series wasn't motivation enough to the New York Islanders, two of their players have other reasons to conjure up some dislike for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They don't, however, plan on resorting to use it.

Two players who, to varying degrees, have served in significant roles for New York this season were let go by the Pittsburgh organization for no compensation.

Forward Matt Moulson went unsigned by the club after being taken in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL Draft, and defenseman Brian Strait was waived by the Penguins on the eve of the start of their regular season earlier this year.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 1:47 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders could add Reasoner for extra experience

PITTSBURGH -- Perhaps New York Islanders forward Matt Moulson put it best when he said of his team, "I think we're maybe a little naive at how hard it is to win in the playoffs."

The Pittsburgh Penguins finished the regular season with 17 more points, 12 more wins and 26 more goals than New York did. But perhaps the most glaring area in which the Penguins outpace the Islanders as the teams prepare for a first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series is in postseason experience.

One card Islanders coach Jack Capuano has to play to counter the Penguins' experience is 36-year-old Marty Reasoner. Reasoner did not play the final 10 games of the regular season, but Capuano made it sound like he intends to insert the forward into the lineup for Game 1 Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

"Marty Reasoner for us is a guy that down the stretch we didn't want to change too much in lineup, but when you look at his experience and the leadership qualities in the room and you look at his faceoffs ... and with the lineup that we have and the youth that we have, it would be a good situation to have Marty Reasoner back in there," Capuano said.

Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 3:33 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Penguins' Crosby skates, Neal and Martin to return

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby took part in a Pittsburgh Penguins morning skate for the first time in almost exactly a month Saturday.

Crosby won't play in the regular-season finale against the Carolina Hurricanes, but he might have learned whom coach Dan Bylsma has in store as his linemates for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They appear to be very familiar ones.

James Neal said he will be on the right wing of Evgeni Malkin with Jarome Iginla on the left side Saturday in Neal's return after missing eight games because of a concussion. Bylsma has said the Penguins are using the regular-season finale as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the postseason.

Crosby's wings for most of the season, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, appear to be together with Jussi Jokinen. When Jokinen was acquired from Carolina at the NHL Trade Deadline earlier this month, the Penguins made no secret Jokinen was brought in as a stopgap -- and as insurance -- for an injured Crosby. That would signal Kunitz and Dupuis will be with Crosby when he is cleared to play.

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