The New York Islanders open up their Stanley Cup Qualifier series against the Florida Panthers today at 4 p.m. Here’s everything to know about the matchup.The New York Islanders kick off their five-game series this afternoon against the Florida Panthers in Toronto.
Since the Islanders are the higher seed in this series, they will be the home team in this afternoon’s matchup. This will allow the Isles and Barry Trotz to get the last change and the defensive matchups the Isles want against the sixth-best offense in the NHL.
Both teams played in exhibition games against their interstate rivals on Wednesday: The Panthers played a matinee game against the Lightning and lost 5-0.
While the Islanders won a tight 2-1 defensive battle against the Rangers. The Islanders were led by goals from Anthony Beauvillier and Devon Toews. While Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves on 19 shots in two scoreless periods.
The Season Series
The Isles have had the upper hand in the season series between these two foes. The blue and orange have posted a 3-0-0 record in their three matchups against the Panthers.
All three of the games in this series have been close encounters. The Islanders won the first game 3-2 in a shootout. In the second game, Scott Mayfield scored the lone third-period goal and the Islanders hung on to win 2-1. The third game was the Islanders strongest performance of the series when they won 3-1 in Florida.
Thomas Greiss was credited with the win in the net in two of the three games, while Varlamov got the shootout win.
The Panthers had over thirty shots per game in this series and went one for ten on the power play. While the Islanders reached the thirty shot mark twice in the season series and were 2 for eight on the power play.
The Islanders come into today as the favorites, courtesy of the Action Network.
The Isles and Panthers have played extremely tight games over the regular season and I expect today’s game to be no different. The Panthers will look to play their speed and skill game, while the Islanders will play a disciplined defensive game and shut down the high scoring Panthers.
I would play the favorites in this one!
New York Islanders 35-23-10
The Islanders will have to make two changes to the lineup that played in Wednesday night’s exhibition game against the Rangers. The NHL allowed teams to dress 22 players instead of the usual 20 for their exhibition games. The Isles dressed 12 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goalies for their exhibition game.
The question for the Islanders lineup is: which two players will come out of the lineup?
The Islanders could dress the conventional 12 forwards and six defensemen or they may dress eleven forwards and seven defensemen. Trotz did not rule out any of these combinations.
The projected lineup sees the Islanders lining up 12 upfront and six in the back. Ross Johnston will retain his spot on the third line, while Andy Greene and Noah Dobson are projected to be scratched for today’s encounter.
Semyon Varlamov solidified his spot as started for game one with his strong performance against the Rangers.
The Islanders are projected to the lineup like this:
Florida Panthers 35-26-8
The Panthers are an extremely strong offensive team finishing top ten in the league in Goals For (228), Goals Per Game (3.30), Power Play Percentage (21.3), and Shots per Game (32.7).
They are led by forwards: Jonathan Huberdeau (23g 55a 78p) Aleksander Barkov (20g 42a 62p) and Mike Hoffman (29g 39a 59p). Florida also has two of the league’s best offensive-defensive in Keith Yandle (5g 40a 45p) and Aaron Ekblad (5g 36a 41p). Ekblad led the Panthers with a +12 plus-minus.
With all these great stats on offense, the Panthers have struggled on defense and in the net, even though they have two-time Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky in between the pipes.
Florida has seen the sixth-most goals against (224), they were fourth in most goals against per game (3.25), and tenth in most shots against per game (32.3).
Opposing teams look to play physical and shut down Florida’s offensive to have success.
Florida is projected to lineup like this:
Where to Catch the Game
TV: MSG, MSG+, MSG GO, NBCSN, SN1
Radio: 88.7FM 103.9FM 98.7FM