The Penguins have their long-time stars and the championship pedigree, but the Islanders have been up for every challenge this season, and what they may lack in individual talent is made up for in commitment and chemistry.
With that in mind, here's a look at how the Islanders and Penguins match up heading into the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
You know the names: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin. They've been the most prolific one-two punch down the middle in the league over the last 12 years. Crosby is coming off his sixth career 100-point season. Phil Kessel had another strong season, and it appears Kessel won't open the series on a line with either Crosby or Malkin, giving the Penguins a game-changer on each of their top three lines.
It will be interesting to see which matchups Barry Trotz wants over the first two games with the Isles getting the last change. Crosby is playing with Jake Guentzel, who after two standout playoff campaigns, had a breakout regular season with 40 goals and 36 assists. He had 21 points in 12 playoff games last year.
The Isles will need all they can get out of the Anders Lee-Mat Barzal-Jordan Eberle line. It seems like Trotz is going with Tom Kuhnhackl, who was with the Penguins for their two Stanley Cups in 2015-16 and 2016-17, in the top six on a line with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey, a "Bold strategy, Cotton" kind of move. Kuhnhackl's playoff experience is nice to have and he can kill penalties, but his spot coming at the expense of Michael Dal Colle will be one of the more intriguing story lines as the series unfolds. Trotz has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.
Valtteri Filppula's return just before the playoffs from a hyperextended elbow gives the Isles a big boost at center, where they don't have much depth. The Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck trio will have to live up to its "best fourth line in hockey" moniker for the Isles to match wits with Pittsburgh.
The X-factor could very well be Nelson, who eclipsed 50 points for the first time this season.
This will be nothing new for Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, but Adam Pelech and Devon Toews will be making their playoff debuts, while Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield have just six and two games of playoff experience, respectively. This will be a huge test for the young defensemen going up against some of the league's best.
Kris Letang has been a mainstay on Pittsburgh's blue line throughout the Crosby-Malkin era and is as important as he's ever been. He could be paired with Brian Dumoulin, though Dumoulin is coming off an injury and is day-to-day heading into the playoffs. Jack Johnson has become a punching bag of sorts for Penguins fans. The Isles will need to capitalize when he's on the ice.
The duo of Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss has been the backbone for the Islanders all season. Trotz found a good formula in rotating them, but it'd be a surprise if Lehner wasn't between the pipes for Game 1. Lehner, who is a year sober, had a .930 save percentage and 2.13 GAA. And if Lehner gets hot, he should stay in net for as long as possible.
Matt Murray, the two-time Cup winner who won his first before his first full NHL season, rebounded after a tough start to the season. Over his last 17 games he has a .934 save percentage.
This is an area where the Isles could be in trouble. They had the third-worst power play in the NHL, converting on 14.5 percent of their opportunities. The high-powered Penguins had the fifth-best power play at 24.6 percent. Both teams were in the middle of the pack on the penalty kill.
Trotz finally got over the hump last year to win his first Stanley Cup with the Capitals, and his job with the Isles has been nothing short of phenomenal. Mike Sullivan, of course, has the two Stanley Cups and got the Penguins back to where they usually are after having to weather an early-season storm. These two have met in the playoffs before and know how the other operates.
Pittsburgh clearly has a talent edge, but given the miracle that was this Islanders season under Trotz, they simply can't be bet against. It'll be a long series, but home-ice advantage will be a deciding factor as the Isles close it out at the Coliseum.