Vincent Pugliese/Getty Images
The biggest storyline surrounding the Penguins is the return of Sidney Crosby to the lineup after missing the entire month of April (12 games) recovering from a broken jaw.
The superstar center practiced with the Penguins earlier this week (per the team), but there has been no official announcement on when he will join his teammates in real game action.
Pittsburgh has scored three goals per game without Crosby in the lineup, which is impressive, but this team is much tougher to defend when he's on the ice. The 25-year-old forward led the NHL in scoring for most of the season with 56 points (15 goals, 41 assists) despite missing a quarter of the year with an injury. His goal scoring, creativity, high hockey IQ and playmaking skill makes him the most difficult player in the NHL to shut down.
The Penguins will be favored against the Islanders with or without Crosby, but not having him in the lineup could help New York extend the series and prevent Pittsburgh from getting extra rest before the second round.
Another storyline to follow with the Penguins is how their team chemistry is affected by all of these injured players returning to the lineup.
When Crosby comes back, Jokinen will no longer be the first line center, which means he will have new linemates and a smaller role in the offense. This won't be an easy adjustment to make, especially for a player that has been in Pittsburgh for less than a month.
Changing lines and making defensive pairing adjustments in the middle of a playoff series is not a comfortable situation for a coach, so it will be interesting to see if chemistry becomes a concern for the Penguins in Round 1.
New York Islanders
Success on the Road
One of the keys to the Islanders' success this season was their remarkable play on the road. They finished 14-6-4 away from the Nassau Coliseum and tied the Penguins for the fewest regulation defeats on the road.
Starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov had an amazing 14-3-3 road record, which will give his team plenty of confidence when it travels to Pittsburgh for Games 1 and 2 of this series.
Previous Playoff History with Pittsburgh
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was the 1992-93 Patrick Division Finals when the Islanders upset Mario Lemieux and the favored Penguins in seven games.
Pittsburgh went on an NHL record 17-game winning streak that season, but New York found ways to win in a very competitive series against one of the greatest teams that didn't win the Stanley Cup.
Will the Islanders pull off a similar upset in 2013?