The Islanders and Panthers get the party started in game 1, for the first playoff game in these territories since 2012. The Panthers have had two playoff appearances in twelve years as a franchise. The first resulted in a clean sweep against the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals. In 2012 the Panthers were defeated by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils. In other words, the Panthers have been defeated by pretty worthy opponents their last time playing at this level. This whole conference felt like it was a race to avoid the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders were terrified of them it seemed and would have much rather played the Florida Panthers. Be careful what you wish for though, as the Panthers are not going to fall over and play dead for the Islanders. In fact, I think the Panthers are being discounted just a bit. There are lot of people declaring that the Isles are going to win here as the lower seed. It’s a trendy fancy pick. Look out though, Jaromir Jagr and this group are going to leave it all on the ice.
The last time goaltender Roberto Luongo found himself in the playoffs was with the Vancouver Canucks. Fans, literally, wanted him to go up in flames due to his inability to bring them a Stanley Cup. The city burnt down and Luongo never had the same relationship with the Canucks again. Luongo is back where his career got started in Florida. He should be able to relax and feel a little less stress than in Vancouver. While I’m sure the Panthers’ have a few diehard fans, the pressure on him in Vancouver versus Florida is night and day. Luongo hasn’t had to play shutout hockey every night with the Panthers. The offense has carried this team in the second-half, without much assistance from the defense. Let’s get into this series a little deeper below, as I provide my additional comments and pick for game 1 between the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers.
N.Y. Islanders vs. Florida Panthers NHL Playoffs Pick
For a team that was based so much around their defense in the first-half, it’s been a total shift from that recently. The offense has been carrying the load at a furious pace. In their final five games of the regular season, the Panthers scored 4 or more goals in four of the five. In only one of their last ten games did they score a single goal. Over their last ten games, they have averaged 3.40 goals per game. In 68% of their final sixteen games the Panthers netted 4 or more goals, without no goals being scored. There was only that 3-1 loss to the Senators in their last second last game where they scored less than 2 goals.
Another interesting note regarding the Panthers is that the Senators game was the first time since February 28th, nineteen games, less than 5 goals was scored in a game featuring Florida. Panthers’ games went 19-1 in that regard, to finish up the season. Also, check out the history between the Islanders and Panthers. The OVER is 8-0-2 in their last ten meetings. Further, the OVER has gone 15-5-4 in their past twenty-four tilts in Florida. It looks like a promising trend, which I want to get a piece of tonight.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-125)