The New York Islanders are gearing up for a return to hockey and hopefully, a long playoff run. The first team that will stand in their way is Florida.
The Islanders played the Panthers three times this season, and beat them every time. That being said, each game was extremely close. Had there not been an empty-net goal in the last of these three games, each would have been a one-goal game.
Furthermore, the last time these teams faced off was in mid-December. A lot has changed since then. For starters, the Isles picked up Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Andy Greene at the trade deadline, while the Panthers sent away Vincent Trocheck.
In addition to different rosters, there will more generally be a different energy when these teams square off in the postseason. There will be much excitement surrounding the return to play as well as the usual level of playoff intensity.
Therefore, we can expect a closely fought series between these teams. The Islanders should not assume a cakewalk over the Panthers based on their previous success. Rather, they will want to make sure they are well-prepared for the series. So with that, let’s take a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of their upcoming opponent.