May 5, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates scoring with teammates during the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game three of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Playoffs 2013: Can the New York Islanders Upset the Pittsburgh Penguins?

One of the more interesting stories to follow in the NHL Playoffs surrounds the 8-seeded New York Islanders and their chances of upsetting the powerful Pittsburgh Penguins in their quarterfinal matchup in the first round. The Penguins won convincingly in the first game, but the following two have cast a lot of doubt over the Pens supposed dominance and called into question whether they can even make it out of the current round.

The cliché is to say that a 1-seed winning in overtime was that team “escaping” with the win. But in Pittsburgh’s case, they truly did escape Sunday’s showdown at the Nassau Coliseum and it’s a situation that is causing concern among Pens fans watching the series. Even with Sidney Crosby back in Game 2, Pittsburgh couldn’t close out the Isles and they nearly fell a game behind after inching past New York in overtime of Game 3.

So the very valid question is now: can the Isles battle back and shock the hockey world by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the NHL Playoffs?

The short answer is still no, but the long answer has a but attached to the end. No, the Isles can’t beat the Penguins at the moment, but if they continue to expand on their current style of play and continue to out-hustle the Pens they will eventually ware them down and end up making a series out of this.

Before this series, many noted that while the Penguins were the better team — and as of this moment they still are– no one should sleep on this quick and young Isles team that does have the capability to steal a game from Pittsburgh during the series. We saw New York take Game 2, which was away inside the CONSOL Energy Center no less, but was that the one game many pundits were referring to?

It’s a debate that has hockey fans split down the middle. On one end you have the conventional fans who recognize the Pens have more fire power and better talent but on the other end we have people really looking at what’s going on in this series. While Pittsburgh is stacked with talent and postseason expierience, they’re making mistakes all over the place and it’s going to catch up with them if it hasn’t already.

Through three games, the Pens have 21 giveaways with 19 of them coming in Game’s 2 and 3. In Game 1 the Pens gave the puck away twice and ended up winning 5-0. The 19 other giveaways came in games where they allowed a total of 8 goals, and that’s not a coincidence. The Islanders aren’t playing mistake-free hockey themselves, but they’re taking advantage of the mistakes Pittsburgh is making and its paying off.

The Isles got a bad break on a bad call in overtime when Brian Strait got questionably called for holding. The resulting 5-on-4 power play is what gave the Pens the chance to win, but had that call not been made, it’s very possible that the Isle find a way to win Game 3 and all of a sudden have a 2-1 lead on the No. 1 seed in the East.

That didn’t happen, but there’s still the notion that the Isles aren’t done making life hard for Pittsburgh. Game 4 is in New York on Tuesday and while it’s nice to fantasize about the Isles winning Game 3, we won’t find out until Game 4 if New York really has the ability to bounce back and take control of this series before it heads back to the Steel City.

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Tags: New York Islanders NHL Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Sean Jeffries

    The answer is YES, they can. Only down by a game, the Isles are absolutely still in this series

  • Eric Sutliff

    what was questionable about the holding call?

    • Patrick Beard

      It was questionable because the referees are not suppose to dictate the outcome of the game. A call is only to be made if it is a blatant foul. I guarantee you the anybody else on the ice yesterday would not of gotten that call. The refs are suppose to let the players decide, in this case they did not.

      • James St John Smythe

        This is absurd, he hauled him down in as blatant and obvious regard as he could. He made no attempt to skate with Crosby or to get around or infront of him at all. He simply dragged him down from behind. You need a textbook example of flagrant holding? Well this call has become the new phote next to the definition. Jeez!

        • Patrick Beard

          The point was made on TV, it looked like Crosby stopped on one skate and went down, he’s a strong individual I doubt he could be taken down based on that angle. I was there and it should not have been called since there was plenty of opportunities to call a penalty during OT and they chose not to. A flagrant foul is spearing, boarding and fighting. They should of allowed the 2 teams to decide it, not on the result of a borderline penalty.

          • James St John Smythe

            • About the penalty that led to the power-play winner by Kunitz: yeah, that was a legitimate call on New York’s Brian Strait, all right. Strait was about to get beat out of the corner by Sidney Crosby (who had three assists) and had to do something, so he grabbed Crosby’s left shoulder and kind of hauled him down. Did Crosby go down pretty easily? Maybe, but the call was the correct one.

            Picture show Mark Streit’s left hand on Sidney Crosby’s shoulder at

            Rule 54 – Holding

            54.1 Holding – Any action by a player that retards the progress of an opposing player whether or not he is in possession of the puck.

            54.2 Minor Penalty – A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who holds an opponent by using his hands, arms or legs.

            A player is permitted to use his arm in a strength move, by blocking his opponent, provided he has body position and is not using his hands in a holding manner, when doing so.

            A player is not permitted to hold an opponent’s stick. A minor penalty shall be assessed to a player who holds an opponent’s stick (assessed and announced as “holding the stick”).

            A player is permitted to protect himself by defending against an opponent’s stick. He must immediately release the stick and allow the player to resume normal play.

            homerSomeone who shows blind loyalty to a team or organization, typically ignoring any shortcomings or faults they have.
            “That guy is a total Broncos homer, they haven’t done anything good all season!”

  • James St John Smythe

    As long as the Isles are prepared to score at least 4 goals per game every game they have a shot.

  • youcantbeserious

    Ok, so I’ve come across this same faulty reasoning in several articles today, and allow me to address this here, Mr. Hill. The faulty reasoning I speak of is that “the Pens have too many giveaways.” This is why sports writers should really be closer to the sport they are covering. These have not been “giveaways” these past two games….these have been TAKEaways. The Isles play has absolutely forced the Pens into making quick, tough, hard decisions, and the Pens have made poor decisions under that pressure. Now, you may say, well yes, it is their job (the Pens) to make the RIGHT decisions in those situations, and not GIVE it away; that completely misses the point. The Islander’s play has been so tough and strong the past two games (at least at 5 on 5), that it has forced the Pens into these low % plays, so to write it off as IF the Pens are GIVING the Islanders chances is a disservice to their play, and not giving them credit for TAKING the game away from the Pens. This is not hyperbole nor a cliche, rather, a MUCH MORE accurate representation of the events of games 2 and 3. I do not write this to suggest that you have not given the Islanders any credit, which your piece has, to an extent, but rather to put into perspective for readers of your article, that what has occurred was earned by one team, not given away by the other. So please, conclusions such as “[the Islanders are] taking advantage of the mistakes Pittsburgh [has] ma[de]” is a disservice to the Islanders and to your readers.