The Metro vs the Atlantic matchup between the New York Islanders and the Florida Panthers is next up in our Playoff Preview. Two teams that in my opinion are very similar in the way they play.
I don’t think either of these teams are consistent enough to make a run this year. All year long both teams struggled to get everything clicking at the same time. Florida would be scoring a lot but not getting the stops they needed. The Islanders struggled with injuries especially on the backend and their offense wasn’t scoring as much as I think most people expected.
These two teams met three times this past season and the New York Islanders picked up the three game sweep. Could that be the case again here in this best of 5? It sure could be, but we’ll have to wait and see. The three matchups this season were all tightly contested as two of the three were one goal games. I fully expected this series to be very similar to the three games they played against each other earlier this year.
Florida Panthers(35-26-8, 78 PTS)
The Panthers are a tough team to judge because they’re all over the place. They’ve got a lot of talent on offense with guys like Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexander Barkov, and Mike Hoffman. They also have some solid depth guys but I don’t know that it’s enough to really consider them a threat. They are going to need guys like Brett Connolly and Erik Haula to provide more consistent scoring to give them a real chance.
Sooooooonnnnnkkkk(Listen to Spittin’ chiclets if you don’t get the reference) led by Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad on the backend, Florida has a decent group in front of Bobrovsky. Yandle and Ekblad eat up minutes and can shutdown any top line. Mark Pysyk, Anton Stralman, and Mackenzie Weeger round out 5 of the 6 defenseman and all three of those guys are all around very solid. I think they will be able to at least contain the Islanders top guys somewhat. I don’t know if they will be able to do it for the whole series. They are also going to need these guys to get involved in the offense more than usual to help slow down the fast pace that the Islanders play at.
What about Bob? More like which Bobrovsky are we going to get. We’ve seen how great he can be in the regular season but we’ve also seen his playoff struggles. I mean last year was the first time he’d won a playoff series. There’s no denying how great Bobrovsky is and he can easily steal a series or two. The problem this year for the Panthers seemed to be that when Bobrovsky was on, their offense was nowhere to be found. Then when their offense would be scoring, Bobrovsky would just lay a complete dud. If they can figure out how to get both their offense and Bob going at the same time they could be a sneaky dark horse team.
New York Islanders(35-23-10, 80 PTS)
I thought they were a fluke last year but I was wrong, this is actually a good team. Led by Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson up front this team knows how to score. Add in J.G. Pageau along with solid young guys like Michael Dal Colle and Anthony Beauvillier, this team could go far. They also have depth where they can roll four lines and give any team they play matchup issues. The defense of Florida is going to have to be on top of their game in order to shut down these forwards.
The defense was rattled with injuries this season, so the long layoff could really help the Islanders out. Veterans Johnny Boychuck, Thomas Hickey, and Andy Greene help lead a group of young studs in Noah Dobson, Ryan Pulock, and Adam Pelech. Those young guys are really going to have to lean on the veterans for their experience. Honestly though, their defense I think is a good fit to keep up with the Panthers offense. They have guys that can keep up with the speed and also be physical on them to wear them down. It should be a fun matchup watching these two teams go at it.
Another series, another question mark in net. They have two decent goalies in Thomas Griess and Seymon Varlamov but both guys can also be very streaky. This will most likely be a case of riding whoever is hot but the real question is how short of a leash each guy will get. I don’t know if going into the series if one or the other has the advantage but that could be decided in the exhibition game they play. Whoever ends up in net will have little room for error with the firepower of the Panthers offense. This could be the highest scoring series of the qualifying round as both teams can put up goals in bunches.
Season series image- nhl.com
Islanders players Image-Amny.com
Leddy and Boychuck image-The Athletic