The chess match to find the right matchups for the Islanders and Penguins isn't the only mental battle going on. Both teams' physical players, the ones who will try to wreak havoc and get under the skin of their opponents, have to figure out where the line is for the officials and how not to cross it while also ensuring that opposing players are suitably annoyed.
Matt Cooke will lead the charge in that department for the Penguins, though they have other practiced agitators in Tanner Glass, Craig Adams, Brandon Sutter and Brenden Morrow. The Isles will be relying on Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Colin McDonald to throw their weight around.
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"It's more of a feeling-out process, I think,'' Martin said. "Every game is different, every referee is different. You don't want to end up in the penalty box and costing your team when you're trying to make an impact. That said, we need to be physical and we need to be hard on their top guys.''
Reasoner in for practice
Jack Capuano had one minor lineup shuffle at Monday's practice, with Marty Reasoner centering the fourth line between Cizikas and Martin. Jesse Joensuu skated on a fifth line with David Ullstrom and Eric Boulton.
Reasoner played only twice in the final month of the season, but Capuano might want the 36-year-old for his faceoff and penalty-killing abilities against the powerful Penguins lineup.
Anders Lee, who played two games after joining the Isles straight from Notre Dame, skated Monday with the young group called up from Bridgeport after the AHL season ended.
Capuano said he hasn't decided who from that new group will travel to Pittsburgh, but goaltender Anders Nilsson is most likely to go as the third goaltender.