Islanders vs. Panthers Pick – NHL March 7th

What a bizarre scene it was the other night in Florida, and of course it had to happen to the Toronto Maple Leafs. I say it had to happen to happen to the Leafs, because of course, they are looking to tank the rest of the season. Leafs fans cringed everywhere as they went on to secure a 3-2 win over the Panthers. It was pretty crazy, as the Panthers needed to dress emergency backup goalie. Those honors went to goaltender coach, Rob Tallas, who was in this position before. The Panthers needed to fill out a waiver to sign Tallas to a one game contract which paid him $500.00. Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya both continue to nurse to injuries, so they will both be absent tonight again. The Panthers will rely on Dan Ellis again tonight, where he got the nod against the Dallas Stars two nights ago. It was Ellis’ first start at the NHL level season and it was clear he was feeling a little shaky early on. The Panthers ultimately lost the contest by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. A great effort from Florida considering the series of events that was playing out the past few days. After a solid season for the Panthers up to this point, it would be unfortunate if the injury to Luongo derails this great year they have had.

Luongo shouldn’t be out for too long to completely smash their playoff hopes, but this is an important part of the season for them as they need to get through a difficult stretch without him. Reports were saying he would be out for just two games, but who knows if it is going to be something that is going to linger. As far as the Islanders are concerned, I am sold on them after defeating the Nashville Predators on the road. It was one of the Islanders most impressive wins that adds to an already impressive resume. No team has flipped the script from last season like the Isles have. They are the Colorado Avalanche of this season, but unlike the Avs, I think they can advance further than the 1st round. Nonetheless, the future is bright for the Islanders with a host of young talent on their roster. Does the Islanders train keep rolling tonight in Florida? It will be important for them not to have a letdown spot after their victory over the Preds the other night.

N.Y. Islanders @ Florida Panthers

The Panthers were pretty famous early in the season for playing in 2-1, 3-1 type games. Now they’ve actually been playing in some entertaining hockey games. Goals have been present even before the goalie situation. Now that the Panthers are down to their 3rd and 4th string net-minders, I think handicapping that situation is worth a look. I made a mistake the other day by not playing the OVER in the Stars and Panthers game. I left some money out on the table that night and I realized it about 5 minutes into the game. Tonight I don’t want that happening again, instead let’s turn a profit on this night. The Panthers heave steadily climbed in the goals against category. Overall they’ve allowed 2.69 goals per game, which is a staunch contrast to the level they were playing at on defense just two months ago. In their last ten games they’ve allowed an average of 3 goals per game.

Note, as I mentioned earlier, the Panthers will be shorthanded in net tonight again. I don’t know if that is the best formula for success against the Islanders. The Isles are 2nd in the NHL scoring 3.09 goals a game. In their last ten matchups they’ve exceeded that a tad by scoring 3.20 goals a game. An excellent defense is what is keeping the Islanders back from being a team that is a serious contender for the Stanley Cup. They are a contender, but I don’t know if we can put them in the same category as other favorites. Not with a defense that is 23rd in the NHL and allowing 2.77 goals per game. This is a series that has seen its fair share of goals lately. The OVER converted in six straight games between the Isles and Panthers, it’s 8-1-2 their last eleven meetings, and lastly the OVER is 6-0-1 the last seven games in Florida.