Islanders/Panthers- Twas' A Fortnight Ago'
A mere 14 days ago, Opening Night, 16,234 screaming Islanders fans. Electricity in the air.
A similar atmosphere is unlikely as the New York Islanders wrap up their two game road trip against the Florida Panthers.
Opening Face off
The Islanders are coming off a listless effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night. With the exception of the first six minutes, Tampa Bay outworked and outplayed the Isles and deserved to come away with a 4-1 win. Michael Grabner had the Isles’ only goal. The loss snapped their three game winning streak.
The Panthers are coming into Saturday’s game off back to back shutout losses. The most recent, a 3-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Jose Theodore started in net and was easily the best player on the ice for Florida
The Islanders had none in the first meeting 14 days ago. The top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and P.A Parenteau was kept in check and Florida rode two first period goals by Stephen Weiss and Jason Garrison to the 2-0 opening night win. Production from the top line has been a strength for the Isles. However, outside of Michael Grabner, the second and third lines haven’t produced anything offensively. Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen have combined for two points in five games and Blake Comeau, who had 24 goals in 2010-11, has been a healthy scratch the past two games and was pointless in his first three games. The Islanders are winless in their last nine trips to South Florida.
Goaltending Carousel... Tonight’s stop is??
If Rick DiPietro is healthy enough to make the trip to Florida, why not give him the start here? If not, Evgeni Nabokov deserves another start. He was fantastic against the suddenly red hot New York Rangers last Saturday.
The Islanders Can Win If??
- Stay out of the penalty box. Florida has only four goals five on five this season but had five power play goals against Tampa Bay in one game last week.
- Dictate the pace of play. Florida wants to bog down the neutral zone and play a possession game by trying to capitalize on opponents' mistakes to score goals. The Isles need to play their game; get the puck deep and forecheck with 60 minutes of high energy.
- Survive the first 10 minutes. Florida hasn’t scored in two games. Expect a desperate, hungry team from the opening face off looking for a fast start. The Islanders struggle in this building, but keeping the score 0-0 or even getting a early goal will go a long way to bucking the trend in Florida.
A 1-1 trip sounds a lot better then 0-2. The Islanders need to win road games if the playoffs are any possibility. Road games against similarly positioned teams are crucial. The Isles will look to avenge their opening night defeat and claw the Panthers in a decisive 3-1 win. We will see you after the game with the recap!