May 9, 2013 at 4:45 PM #52085
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
Bewildering Series Continues – Penguins Host Islanders in Game 5
The Pittsburgh Penguins were supposed to run over the New York Islanders in their first round playoff matchup but since game 1, the opposite has happened. It’s not like the Penguins are being stoned by a hot goaltender – they are averaging 4.25 goals per game on nearly 29 shots per game. It has been the inability to match New York’s intensity and the Penguins own defensive play that has plagued them so far. Pittsburgh will make the necessary change in goal for Game 5 – Tomas Vokoun will replace Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes.
The New York Islanders have absolutely come alive offensively in the last three games – 14 goals for and seemingly gaining confidence with each and every period played. No lead is safe against New York – this team has absolutely no quit in them.
John Tavares has two goals and two assists in the past three games, center Casey Cizikas had a goal and two assists in Game 4 and has two goals and two assists in the series while captain Mark Streit leads the club with five points (two goals, three assists). Brad Boyes and Kyle Okposo each have three points in two games, Matt Moulson has three points in three games and Michael Grabner and Lubomir Visnovsky each have two points in the last two games. Translation – everyone is contributing for New York – everyone!
One area that the Islanders will absolutely have to clean up is their defense. They have given up 17 goals in four games and Evgeni Nabokov has a 4.55 goals against average and a miserable .846 save percentage in the series so far. The Isles are allowing the Pens power play a 40% success rate (6 goals against) – staying out of the box is paramount if this team hopes to advance.
The Pittsburgh Penguins brought Tomas Vokoun in to back up Marc-Andre Fleury for this very reason – Fleury wilted against Philadelphia in the playoffs last year and the team didn’t have a reliable backup to turn to. Vokoun was 13-4 with a 2.45 goals against average during the regular season. He was even better against the Islanders, posting a perfect 3-0 record while stopping 98 of 101 shots. Anything will be better than Fleury – hopes are Vokoun will be the difference.
The Pittsburgh offense certainly hasn’t been an issue in the series so far averaging 4.25 goals per game. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has eight points (two goals, six assists) in the series, Jarome Iginla has a goal and six assists so far and captain Sidney Crosby is has two goals and four assists in the three games he’s played. Pascal Dupuis has four goals in four games and Chris Kunitz has four points in two games. The Penguins are as potent as advertised but just can’t keep the puck out of their own net.
Betting Prediction: A few trends to consider:
• NYI are 35-88 in their last 123 vs. Atlantic.
• Over is 7-3 in NYI last 10 overall.
• Over is 7-3 in NYI last 10 vs. Eastern Conference.
• PIT are 38-13 in their last 51 home games.
• PIT are 38-14 in their last 52 overall.
• PIT are 9-4 in their last 13 vs. Atlantic.
• NYI are 5-22 in the last 27 meetings in Pittsburgh.
• Over is 8-3-1 in the last 12 meetings.
This has been a tough series to call indeed! But the one thing that we do know is that there will be some goals scored in Game 5. I am staying away from the Puckline but there is more than a reasonable chance that this game will surpass the 6 goal total.
Pick: Take the Over – 6 goals and enjoy Game 5 of the most entertaining series in the playoffs
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