W2W4: Islanders vs. Penguins

The Islanders skate into the NHL arena with the strangest pronunciation Tuesday, when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Consol Energy Center. Here are three factors to watch for when the puck drops.

Duo Down

Unless you’ve been locked in a vestibule at Nassau Coliseum for a month, you probably heard that Sidney Crosby is out with a concussion. Evgeni Malkin is also out of the lineup with a knee injury. Welcome to the Islanders’ world, Pens fans.

Yes, the talented tandem of Penguins is a little more productive, but the Islanders have had to make due without several of their top players since the start of the season, including D Mark Streit. And while the Isles still sit near the bottom of the standings, they’ve battled valiantly, particularly against the Penguins. The first two meetings between the clubs have both been decided by a single goal … even with Malkin and Crosby in the lineup.

Here’s To Your Health

Speaking of injuries, the Isles’ Kyle Okposo recently returned to the lineup and continues to get re-adjusted to game speed. In his first three games this season he has an assist to go with four shots on goal and a minus-1 rating. While the team had about zero success against the Penguins last season, Okposo registered a point per game (two goals, four assists) in the 2009-10 campaign. Perhaps he’ll capture some of that magic again Tuesday night.

Who Is That Masked Man?

I’ll go out on a limb and say newest Islander Evgeni Nabokov will not be in the crease tonight. They could probably use him though. In New York’s previous five games (three of them against the Buffalo Sabres), the Isles’ netminders have posted a rather blah .890 save percentage. The good news seems to be that Jack Capuano’s crew has reduced shot totals from the opposition in three of those five games, holding both the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils below 30 shots, while restricting the Sabres to just 23 Sunday. The bad news? The Islanders lost all three of those games.