Normally an Islanders-Penguins game didn't get my much hype in the past two seasons - and it's not hyped by loads of people now either - but there is an added intensity on the ice for both teams. This year's Islanders aren't the same old lame duck group of misfits. They're playing with a little more depth and people are starting to notice.
The Penguins go into Friday's game as one of the top teams in the Atlantic Division, sporting a 17-8 record. The Islanders are 9-9, but seem to be floating in the playoff picture if they can manage to hover around .500 for the rest of the season, which is far from over.
John Tavares continues to lead the Islanders with 20 points and is second behind Matt Moulson with nine goals this year. Only Sidney Crosby (25) and Evgeni Malkin (22) have more points than Tavares, as far as everyone playing tonight. In Newsday last week, Tavares was featured as the third best bargain of any New York athlete thanks to his $900,000 a year salary.
Let's hope that bargain continues to get better tonight.