You got the feeling, speaking to the Islanders the morning before their first playoff game against the Penguins, that the last three days have felt a little bit more like three weeks.
“We’re excited for it,” Casey Cizikas said. “We’re ready for the drop of that puck.”
All of which is to say Barry Trotz had had plenty of time to think about how to best solve Sidney Crosby and company Wednesday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Though nothing is set in stone, there’s every reason to believe Trotz will stay the course with his lineups.
With Thomas Greiss out there for Wednesday’s optional morning skate, the safe bet is that Robin Lehner (25-13-5, 2.13 goals-against average, .930 save percentage) will get the start in nets.
The first line will likely consist of Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle, followed by Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Tom Kuhnhackl. The third line, centered by the newly-returned Valtteri Filppula, will have Anthony Beauvillier on the left wing and Leo Komarov on the right. That vaunted fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck will round it out.
The defensive pairings are Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews and Scott Mayfield.
Days after drastically mixing up his lineups during a Monday practice, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on Wednesday morning appeared to go back to what’s worked well this season. The Penguins projected lineups had Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust on the first line, followed by Jared McCann, Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. Dominik Simon, Nick Bjugstad and Phil Kessel are on the third line, and Teddy Bleuger, Matt Cullen and Garrett Wilson make up the fourth line.
The defensive pairings are as follows: Olli Maatta and Kris Letang, Jack Johnson and Justin Schultz, and Marcus Pettersson and Erik Gudbranson. Matt Murray (29-14-6, 2.69 goals-against average, .919 save percentage) is expected to start in goal.
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin (lower body) is expected to be a game-time decision. He didn’t participate in Wednesday’s optional morning skate and could potentially play.