With the stage set for the NHL’s return, the Florida Panthers are looking to continue where they left off. The Cats ended the season on a two-game winning streak, beating both the Montreal Canadians and St. Louis Blues. When the league shut down, the Panthers held the fourth spot in the Atlantic Division going 35-26-8 with 78 points. Only trailing the Toronto Maple Leaves by three points.
Florida is preparing to face the New York Islanders in a best-of-five series on August 1st. The Islanders ended their season losing seven in a row, and holding the fifth seed in the Metropolitan Division. Although it’s been months since the regular season, the Panthers are looking to continue the Islander’s seven-game losing streak.
Jonathan Huberdeau lead Florida in points with 78, scoring 23 goals with 55 assists. The Panthers also have all-star goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky who had a shaky first year in Florida. Bobrovsky’s record so far is 23-19 with a 3.23 GAA. Compare that to the backup goalie, Chris Driedger who went 7-2 and a 2.05 GAA. Look for the Panthers to platoon the two.
Who Has The Edge?
The series could go either way; both teams have the talent and coaching to win in less than five games. However, the Panthers have a slight edge because they are still riding high on the two-game winning streak. Although the Islanders have the advantage in playoff experience. Last season they went far in the Playoffs, shocking the rest of the NHL.
But the Panthers are a young team with a lot to prove, and could do what New York did last season.
The Islanders do have a better offense than Florida. Matthew Barzal leads New York with 19 goals, 41 assists combining for 60 points. He’s clearly the Islanders’ best offensive player. And along with Brock Nelson, they could create nightmares for Florida’s defense.
The goalie matchup is interesting; Bobrovsky is obviously a superstar in the league. However, he will have to go up against Semyon Varlamov who had a bleak record of 19-14 and a 2.62 GAA. His backup, Thomas Greiss was much more successful, 16-9 with a 2.74 GAA. Likewise to Florida, look for New York to platoon the two.
Although the Panthers will not be playing home the BBT Center in Sunrise, they still have a huge opportunity to make waves. It will be interesting to see how they look in this shortened tournament. With no fans in the seats and no rats to rally with, I think the Panthers will make an impressive run.
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