A week after the Penguins welcomed the young, inexperienced New York Islanders to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the attitudes of Pittsburgh fans sure has changed since that night at Consol Energy Center.
The day after the game one bashing by the Penguins, many were saying the Islanders were down for the count. Many saying the series would end in a four game sweep. Others giving New York the benefit of a doubt and saying Pittsburgh would wrap it up in five.
Fast forward a week later. That confidence is long gone. The Penguins play over the past four games have both teams on even ground, tied up at 2-2 coming back to Consol Energy Center for game five. A scenario some did not see coming last Thursday.
The top seeded Penguins, the team with two of the best players in the game, went out and brought in four veteran players, two who were captains on their previous teams, were geared up and ready for a long playoff run. The rest of the hockey world has the Penguins as one of the heavy favorites to bring home the franchises fourth Stanley Cup. If you're on Twitter, #CuporDie is the slogan.
The Penguins have everything to lose in this series and in the entire Stanley Cup playoffs. A top seed with talent that many general mangers would kill to have, who will receive the most criticism from the media, analysts and doubters if they fall to this Islanders squad.
This is a team that has also exited the playoffs in the first round two out of three years since winning it all in 2009. Don't tell me there's no pressure on Pittsburgh.
The New York Islanders are a squad of fast, young players with little to no playoff experience, who realize that nobody expects them to make waves in the postseason. They, unlike the Penguins, have absolutely nothing to lose in these playoffs. They'll take any goals, whether they are lucky bounces are not, as long as they come out on the winning side.
The Penguins are not the only one seed to deal with a tied series after four games. But the Penguins are haunted by two straight first round exits and don't want to make it three with the team general manager Ray Shero assembled this spring.
The worst case scenario has happened. Starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be riding the pine Thursday, and Tomas Vokoun will get the start after Fleury's poor performance in game four. Vokoun is playing the role that Shero expected him to be in if the Penguins saw Fleury struggle in the playoffs once again.
For the New York Islanders, they are right where they want to be. For the Penguins, a series that seemed to be in the bag after a shellacking of the Islanders in game one, has turned on them, and all the pressure that comes with being the number one seed has begun to push down on them a lot harder after game four.
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