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Penguins vs. Islanders

(Page 4 of 5)
Penguins vs Islanders - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Kunitz, a not-so-secret weapon, sparks Penguins

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- On a team loaded with potential future Hall of Fame members and past NHL MVPs, scoring champions and goals leaders, there's one player, above all, whom many Pittsburgh Penguins forwards openly campaign to have as a linemate.

A player with whom Sidney Crosby said he has the "most comfort."

One coach Dan Bylsma said "is a perfect complement to a lot of different guys."

Said James Neal, "Everyone loves playing with him."

They weren't talking about Evgeni Malkin or Jarome Iginla.

The most sought-after linemate on the Penguins? Chris Kunitz.

"He's great to play with," Pascal Dupuis said. "He's the complete player."

One player has been on the NHL's most productive line each of the past two seasons. Yes, he plays for the Penguins; no, it's not former Hart Trophy winners Malkin or Crosby. Not goal-every-other-game man Neal, either.

It's Kunitz.

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Crosby practices again, status for Game 1 unknown

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- It remains unclear if Sidney Crosby will play for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Crosby took part in Pittsburgh's practice Tuesday at Southpointe Iceoplex, but did not skate with regular linemates or work on the power play. He has done both in past practices, which suggests Crosby is unlikely to play.

"Our lineup is a game-day decision," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said after practice.

But in his post-practice comments, Bylsma admitted that the subterfuge associated with the Stanley Cup Playoffs already has started and he has no intention of tipping his hand before necessary.

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New father Fleury prepared for better playoff results

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie - PIT
RECORD: 23-8-0
GAA: 2.39 | SVP: 0.916

PITTSBURGH -- The morning after Marc-Andre Fleury's first child, daughter Estelle, was born on Friday, the weary Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender sheepishly acknowledged he perhaps wasn't as prepared as he'd prefer to be when it comes to the fine arts of diaper-changing, bottle-feeding and swaddling.

"Not so smooth yet," Fleury said with his characteristic smile. "I still have some work to do … I don't know so much yet.

"I'm just going to go with the flow."

Kind of like his approach to putting his postseason showing from a year ago behind him as he embarks on the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Morrow finding his way in Pittsburgh, set for playoffs

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Brenden Morrow is looking forward to experiencing those jitters again when the NHL's second season commences.

After missing out on all the fun that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past four seasons with the Dallas Stars, Morrow was all smiles when asked what it's going to be like to get back in the mix with a team that appears primed to play deep into the spring. Top-seeded Pittsburgh will play the New York Islanders in the first round.

"It's been four years … since 2008 when I was last in the playoffs, so I can't wait for that first game when the jitters start to come back," Morrow told NHL.com. "You don't get those very often. I had one about a month ago when I got traded [to Pittsburgh], but haven't had that feeling for a while, so I can't wait to get those butterflies again."

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Crosby hopes to return; Penguins confident either way

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is anxious and eager for Tuesday. And not just because the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in the NHL that day.

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 41 | PTS: 56
SOG: 124 | +/-: 26

Crosby has an appointment with his physicians to evaluate the status of the healing in the jaw that was broken during a game March 30. Crosby, like the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, is hopeful he will be given clearance to return to game play as part of this meeting.

But unlike a hockey game -- something Crosby has a direct effect on -- the NHL MVP candidate is doing his best to temper any expectations he has for his checkup from the doctor.

"I try not to have any," Crosby said. "Just going for an appointment. I don't have any control over it, so there's no point of getting too worked up about it.

"I don't know exactly what [needs to check out], but I'm sure they'll take a peek and see how everything's healing."

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Trade to Penguins has rejuvenated Iginla

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Matt Niskanen is in awe of Jarome Iginla.

"The first morning he got here, I looked across the room and it was like, 'Holy hell, that's Jarome Iginla,'" Niskanen, the Pittsburgh Penguins' 26-year old defenseman, told NHL.com. "I've skated with Sid [Crosby] and Geno [Evgeni Malkin] for a while, but I don't know, he's been around for so long and been so good for so long that it took a little adjustment. I don't think I'm used to it yet. He's a legend."

Iginla doesn't have to be legendary for the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup this season. That's part of the reason he waived his no-movement clause to facilitate a deal to the Penguins shortly before the NHL Trade Deadline.

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Penguins have work cut out finding line combos

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- A two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner. The NHL's plus/minus leader. One of only two players who did not go consecutive games without a point this season. The third-leading goal-scorer over the past two seasons. A six-year captain in the League. A former 30-goal scorer who has seven in 10 games since joining his team.

Oh, and superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin too.

Let's face it, the Pittsburgh Penguins are loaded up front. And though coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't want it any other way, it does present some challenges when deciding who to include in a game day lineup, and in how to then divvy up the impressive collection of talent into four lines.

It's one of those proverbial good problems to have, but that doesn't mean Bylsma doesn't have some difficult choices to make in filling out the Penguins' line combinations.

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Penguins vs. Islanders series preview

NHL.com Staff

Penguins

  Seed: 136-12-072 Pts.

Islanders

  Seed: 824-17-755 Pts.

It took until the very last minutes of the NHL's season to determine that these two teams would meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The New York Islanders fell to the No. 8 seed when the Ottawa Senators defeated the Boston Bruins with a late goal in the final game of the season, Sunday night in Boston, to leapfrog past the idle Islanders.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, meanwhile, have occupied the top seed in the East for much of the season, putting together a solid, and often spectacular, campaign.

The dramatic turns of events that played out on TD Garden ice could not have been warmly greeted by the Islander players. The excitement of returning to the playoffs for the first time in six years, and the possibility, of winning a series for the first time in two decades, has to be slightly tempered by the odds now faced. Certainly, the Islanders would have preferred to get the Bruins or Montreal Canadiens, the other two possible opponents when the final game started.

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Why the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Penguins went into the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs riding the recent return of Sidney Crosby and a high-flying offense, and were the consensus favorite to at least reach the Final, if not win the championship.

But there were cracks in the Penguins armor, specifically their ability to prevent goals. Last season, Pittsburgh had a 14-game streak of gaining at least one point in the standings, but after that won just four of eight to finish the season and yielded 37 goals in those eight contests.

The lesson learned from last season -- when the Penguins crashed out of the playoffs in a flurry of goals against Philadelphia in the first round -- is the biggest reason they will claim the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in franchise history.

Sure, the Penguins have the most-talented roster in the League, especially after general manager Ray Shero added Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen and Douglas Murray before the NHL Trade Deadline. Yes, they won 22 of 24 games to wrap up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and cement their place as clear favorites in what appears to be the weaker conference.

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X-Factor: Trade for Jokinen great help to Penguins

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The NHL Trade Deadline was still six days away, and Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero already had made a stunning flurry of moves.

Jussi Jokinen
Left Wing - PIT
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 22
SOG: 74 | +/-: -5
Shero added two captains and members of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, and a hulking defenseman to what already was a Stanley Cup-contending roster. So it was understandable that when Shero made another trade on deadline day -- adding Jussi Jokinen from the Carolina Hurricanes for a conditional draft pick -- it didn't cause nearly the stir that welcoming Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh did.

Jokinen was an insurance policy after Sidney Crosby was lost to a broken jaw. He was a low-risk replacement, and the Hurricanes even agreed to pay a portion of his salary because his contract runs through next season.

Well, Jokinen has proven to be quite the profitable addition. He was a point-per-game player for the Penguins since the trade April 3, and has filled in seamlessly on a scoring line for the Penguins.

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Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins