Tradition has a new home.
Tonight the Pens will play the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center for the first time. The Islanders moved to this building – which is also home of the Brooklyn Nets – from Nassau Coliseum for the 2015-16 season.
“I like it,” Sidney Crosby said. “It’s nice to be playing in a new building and obviously it’s a
big game, so any time you can see a new one and change up the routine a bit, it’s nice.”
Upon arriving, the team bus had to pull into a giant wooden elevator and be lifted up onto the event level. Once there, a few of the guys went up to the glass and looked around at the arena. It’s sleek and elegant, done in shades of black (the color of the seats), gray and white. There’s barely, if any, of the Islanders’ orange and blue.
“It’s really emo. It kind of fits in with the whole hipster vibe in Brooklyn,” joked Ian Cole. “It’s cool. It’s really cool. It’s a great rink and it’s got a really cool bus elevator and turntable. So that’s kind of cool.”
With the Islanders being a division rival, Crosby has played many, many games against them in their old barn, Nassau Coliseum. He told me he had a couple memories that stand out – first, playing on a line with Mario Lemieux his rookie season and combining for a couple of goals in a game. The second was winning their 2013 first-round playoff series against the Isles in Game 6 on Brooks Orpik’s overtime goal.
It’s going to be different playing against them tonight in this barn, but Crosby is looking forward to it.
“It’s definitely a different look,” Crosby said. “That building got loud and had a certain type
of atmosphere too. We’ll see with this one. It’s much newer but that one was a tough one to play in. We’ll see tonight.” LINEUP UPDATES
Winger Carl Hagelin was the only player missing from the skate, and head coach Mike Sullivan said he will not play tonight against the Islanders.
“He’s improving each day and he’ll be a day-to-day, game-to-game decision,” Sullivan said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be any length of time.”
Hagelin also missed Sunday’s 6-1 win over New Jersey. After being involved in a collision which required him to leave Saturday’s 4-2 loss against Calgary in the first period to get stitched up, Sullivan said that Hagelin woke up the next morning and didn’t feel well. He didn’t have headaches or anything significant, he just didn’t feel right and the medical staff thought it was best for precautionary reasons to hold him out.
This morning, Sullivan said that a concussion is not necessarily a concern.
“He hasn’t been diagnosed with anything,” Sullivan said. “Our medical staff believes for precautionary reasons we’re going to hold him out here.”
Forwards Eric Fehr (16 games missed with a lower-body injury) and Beau Bennett (18 games missed with an upper-body injury) both participated in morning skate and were involved in contact, which Sullivan said is the final step for them.
The coach said they could potentially re-join the lineup on Friday in Columbus.
“Fehr and Bennett are getting close,” Sullivan said. “They’re skating harder. … I think (Columbus) is a possibility.
Sullivan confirmed that Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal and that he is going with the same group of six defensemen he used against the Devils, meaning Derrick Pouliot will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game.
“I spoke to him today about it. This is just part of the process,” Sullivan said. “I’ve said all along here that we have seven healthy defensemen right now that we believe can help us win. He’s one of those guys. We’re going to try to use them as best we can on a game-by-game basis for that to happen.
“He’s a young player. He’s growing, he’s getting better. He’s made a lot of improvements in a lot of areas of his game. He’s got to continue to work and we talked about some of the areas of his game where we think he can continue to get better and we’ll work with him in those areas. I don’t want it to affect his confidence or his belief in himself. We’re really pleased with the progress that he’s made here.”
The Pens used the same lines they did on Sunday in New Jersey…
Sestito-Cullen-Sheary SULLIVAN ON THE ISLANDERS
“They’re playing really well right now. They’re 7-2-1 in their last 9. They have a good transition game. I think they have a dynamic player in (John) Tavares who’s one of the elite players in the league. They have balance through their lineup. I think they have a good transition game. I think that’s one of their strengths. We’re going to have to make sure we manage the puck the right way. When our transition from offense to defense is going to be really important so we get on the right side of the puck and we get above people and make them come through us in order to get to our scoring areas. That’s something we’ve been trying to focus on as we grow and get better as a team. I think that’s one aspect that makes us more difficult to play against.”