The Pittsburgh Penguins have an opportunity to put a stranglehold on their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series
against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Some added muscle is likely to find its way to the Penguins' bench.
Although they aren't allowed to publicly comment on their respective injury statuses -- the team policy is being enforced like never before this post-season -- right wing James Neal
and defenceman Brooks Orpik
are widely expected to play in Game 4
against the Islanders.
Neal took a regular shift during Pittsburgh's morning skate on Tuesday. While the former 40-goal scorer is likely to play, Orpik looks like something of a lock. He skated on Tuesday with his regular defence partner, Paul Martin, and showed no symptoms of the lower-body injury that has plagued him for the past two weeks.
Orpik was non-committal following the morning skate, but the impression is that he will be in the lineup Tuesday night. Neal, for that matter, appears a better than 50/50 bet to participate.Cover boy
Sidney Crosby is no stranger to publicity, and no stranger to being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The Pittsburgh captain graces this week's cover for the sixth time in his career. All of his times on the cover have occurred during the past four years, with two editions dedicated to his "Golden Goal" at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Crosby was followed by a Sports Illustrated reporter during much of last week and the iconic magazine decided he would be its cover boy if he returned to the lineup in time, which he did last Friday in Game 2
against the Islanders.
Crosby is also no stranger to controversy, even though his personality is anything but controversial. Two of his biggest critics -- NBC broadcasters Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick -- complained on Sunday that a penalty on New York defenceman Brian Strait shouldn't have been called and suggested that Crosby embellished the play. Crosby, who privately and publicly bristles at any talk that he takes dives, frequently points out that he has never been whistled for a diving infraction in his career.
Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang has been named one of the three finalists
for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL's finest all-around defenceman. The other nominees are Minnesota's Ryan Sutter and Montreal's P.K. Subban.
This marks the first nomination for all three of the candidates. Letang and Subban led the NHL in scoring among defencemen. Letang's plus-16 was by far the best total of the trio.Setting Sutter
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma isn't real thrilled with Brandon Sutter's recent performance. Sutter, participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in his career, has not produced a point through three games against the Islanders. He was demoted to the fourth line in favour of centre Jussi Jokinen during overtime in Game 3
.PK not OK
New York coach Jack Capuano is plenty happy with what he has witnessed during the past two games, with the exception of his team's penalty killing unit. The Penguins are six-for-13 in this series with the man advantage, something that crippled the Islanders in Game 3.
Capuano told reporters that he seriously considered benching some of his players -- many believe Michael Grabner was on this list -- following a lackluster Game 1
in Pittsburgh. However, Capuano is appreciative that his players have become more physical against the favored Penguins during the past two games, and the Islanders are not expected to deploy any line changes.Pittsburgh lines
FleuryNew York lines
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