What can the New York Islanders take away from the Florida Panthers 5-0 exhibition loss?
As the New York Islanders get ready for their tilt against the New York Rangers later on Wednesday, we got a peek at their qualifying-round opponents the Florida Panthers. In Wednesday’s first exhibition game of the day, the Panthers took on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto.
It’s still tune-up hockey so we can’t get hard facts about what the Florida Panthers are going to do when the games actually matter. But we can glean some key points before we see them on August 1.
Sergei Bobrovsky Off the Case
We knew going into the postseason that Sergei Bobrovsky was not in the best of form. With a flat 0.900SV% and 3.23GAA this season, he’s been nowhere near the Vezina trophy goalie the Panthers are paying him to be.
But with a four-month break, Sergei Bobrovsky had time to get things right before hitting the ice against the Islanders. We’ve seen him bounce back before. After a terrible 15-16 season, Bobrovsky put up a Vezina winning season in 16-17 with a 2.06GAA and 0.931SV%.
But against the Lightning, Bobrovsky was not that Vezina caliber goalie. Sure, his defense didn’t help him out (more on that later), but Bob wasn’t free of guilt either.
On Brayden Point’s second goal, Bobrovsky backed off too much and allowed Point to stick it high glove.
Bobrovsky’s angles were off and his general read was shaky. He can certainly fix those two issues prior to Saturday, but as it stands, it seems that the Panthers goalie isn’t at his best.
As I mentioned the Panthers defense was not doing a good job in their own end against the Lightning. They looked disjointed and unsure of where to be on the ice. That type of thing will happen when you’re top pair isn’t on the ice.
Going into the game the Panthers blue line pairings were:
You’ll notice Aaron Ekblad isn’t on that list. Nor is MacKenzie Weegar. Both should be available to face the Islanders on Aug.1.
You’d assume with their top par back, the Panthers won’t look so disjointed on the ice. But, that top pair isn’t going to step in and play the full 60 minutes either.
Power Play Disadvantage
The Florida Panthers had four power-play opportunities in this game and capitalized on none of them. Sure, they put up a decent six shots on goal, but with a 0.37 expected goals-for, none of those shots are what you’d call quality shots.
That’s not what you’d expect from a forward line that includes Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov, and Mike Hoffman. With a 78.8 percent power-play efficiency through the 2019-20 season, this result shouldn’t be too surprising.
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Again, this is still tune-up hockey. Seeing the Florida Panthers lose 5-0 to the Lightning doesn’t mean the Islanders are going to walk all over them in the qualifying round.
Getting Ekblad and Weegar back will be a huge benefit for the Panthers when they meet the Islanders.
What this game did show us is that Bobrovsky isn’t up to his best and that the Panthers power play may not be as dangerous as we think it can be.