For the Pittsburgh Penguins, the new kids own the block. The club’s newest faces are leading the charge against the New York Islanders in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins, besting their Atlantic Division rival Wednesday night with a final tally of 5-0, are the offensive juggernaut of the Eastern Conference. Despite the absence of captain Sidney Crosby, who sustained a broken jaw on March 30, the Penguins are poised for a long post-season.
This edition of Pens Playoff Playbook shines a light on the Penguins’ newest stars.
Jarome Iginla, making his first post-season appearance in four years, relished in the intensity of Game 1. The seasoned winger helped seal the Penguins’ victory with two assists—one on a power play marker by Kris Letang and the other on a Pascal Dupuis goal. Playing 14:45 of ice time, Iginla registered two shots on goal, served a 10 minute misconduct penalty, and earned a plus-1 rating. He played with intensity, passion, and discipline—mindful of the Islanders’ repeated attempts to distract him. Immediately, Iginla showed willingness to compete—evidenced by a heavy shot to the mask of netminder Evgeni Nabokov early in the first period. Nabokov, who was shaken up on the play, did not anticipate a first shift quite like that.
Brenden Morrow played nearly 16 minutes but failed to register a point in Game 1. However, Morrow’s contributions to the Penguins are rooted in his experience. Drafted by the Dallas Stars in 1997, Morrow has made two notable postseason appearances—a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2000 and the Western Conference Final in 2008—which ultimately saw his club fall to the Detroit Red Wings. Morrow will serve as the veteran voice on the bench, not unlike Bill Guerin in the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup victory. Game 1 saw Morrow, together with forward Matt Cooke, effectively shut down John Tavares and prevent the Islanders from mounting any form of attack.
Rest assured, Morrow will not continue a pointless streak throughout the postseason. Expect to see Morrow’s name on the score sheet in later games as he adjusts to playoff hockey and juggles the responsibility of shadowing Tavares.
Douglas Murray made his presence known in Game 1. Playing with physicality and speed, the blueliner registered five hits and twelve penalty minutes in his postseason debut with the Penguins. Murray was primarily set up in front of Marc-Andre Fleury, clearing loose pucks with urgency and making forechecking an impossible feat for the Islanders. This relieves some pressure from Fleury, who posted his sixth career playoff shutout, while quickly allowing forwards to gain possession of the puck and move the play into the offensive zone. All in all, the Penguins played like a well oiled machine.
Jussi Jokinen made his first postseason appearance since 2009 with the Carolina Hurricanes. Notching two assists in the second period—the first on a backhander from Dupuis and the second on Tanner Glass’ first career playoff goal—Jokinen earned a plus-2 rating and played nearly thirteen minutes. Jokinen would exit the game prematurely after sustaining a knee-on-knee hit from Islanders’ Marty Reasoner in the final frame of Game 1. Jokinen was favouring his right leg and immediately headed down the runway to the Penguins’ locker room. He skated off the ice without assistance. Jokinen joined the team Thursday morning for practice, skating alongside Tanner Glass and Craig Adams.
-Captain Sidney Crosby has received medical clearance to play in Game 2 tonight. The Penguins star has been sidelined since March 30 when a violent slapshot hit him in the face, resulting in a broken jaw and several missing teeth. Crosby will play Game 2 with extra protection to prevent further injury to his jaw. Crosby skated with linemates Dupuis and Chris Kunitz at the Penguins’ morning skate.