The Islanders fired their coach and GM at the end of last season, and then lost their star player John Tavares to Toronto. This year was supposed to be a transition year from the Tavares era into the new era of defense and structure under coach Barry Trotz. Instead, the Islanders exceeded all expectations, excelling in the regular season under Trotz’s system and earning home ice for the first time since 1988. Now, they look to translate that regular season success into playoff success, looking to win their second series since 1993 and first Cup since 1983.
Meanwhile, the Penguins have enjoyed lots of success in the Crosby era, making the playoffs for their thirteenth straight season. In that span, they have won three Cups (including two of the last three), made the Cup Finals four times, and the conference final five times. However, last year, the Ovechkin-led Capitals finally got the better of them in the second round. The Penguins are hungry to get back to the promised land and win their third Cup in four years, cementing them as one of the great dynasties in NHL history.