New York Islanders Vs Florida Panthers : Pre-Game Report

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Florida Panthers (27-41-8, 62 pts) AT New York Islanders (29-35-10, 68 pts)
Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

When : 7:00 PM ET, April 1, 2014

TV : MSG + (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)

Radio : 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM LINews Radio
The New York Islanders will play a game that has major (draft) implications, as two draft lottery bound teams square off tonight at 7 o’clock here in Long Island.

The game essentially is meaningless for both teams as far as the postseason goes, as the Islanders and the Panthers are eliminated from playoff contention.  The game does have some value to it, as both teams are far towards the bottom of the league in standings. However, the Panthers are probably too far gone at this point in the season (given the amount of games remaining) to jump the Islanders in the standings, which only gets the Panthers closer to having the coveted 1st overall pick.

Regardless of the postseason significance (or lack thereof), the game does have meaning for the Islanders. Just like we’ve seen since the end of the Olympic Break, Long Island’s hockey team has brandished many rookies on the team, even as much as 1o freshman suited up for a single game. The rookies have surprisingly delivered, as the Islanders have posted a 7-5-2 record since John Tavares‘s season-ending injury.

Take that stat how you like, but there’s no denying that the team’s prospects have the potential to develop into a solid team in the near future. Sure, some of the young  guys who are on the team may not be there in a few years, but most of what you’re seeing now appears to be staying within the Islanders system, which certainly is a good thing.

As for the tonight’s lineup, Evgeni Nabokov will be the starting goaltender. The rest of the lineup from Saturday’s game against New Jersey will remain the same as well.

As for the Panthers, a man familiar with the Islanders, Roberto Luongo is expected to start in net tonight. It’s been quite an eventful year and a half for Luongo, who had a falling-out with his former team, the Vancouver Canucks. After plenty of goaltending drama, Luongo was finally traded out of Vancouver, and back to where the Islanders initially traded him back in 2001.

Luongo has had himself a respectable season, posting a .918 SV% and a 2.41 GAA in 52 games played.

With that pre-game briefing, expect the Panthers to come out slow in the first 20 minutes, having played and lost last night. The first period will be the Islanders’ best chance to take a comfortable lead, and that could certainly happen if they come out ready to play.

Game Notes

  •  NHL Debuts: John Persson made his NHL debut Thursday in Tampa Bay. He joined Kevin Czuczman, Mike Halmo, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom on the list of Isles to make thier NHL debuts this season.
  • Shootout Leader: With his shootout tally Thursday in Tampa Bay, Frans Nielsen improved to 31-56 (55.4%) in career shootout attempts, edging ahead of TJ Oshie’s 26-47 (55.3%) mark as the most accurate active player in shootouts (minimum 20 goals).
  • NHL Scoring Race: Kyle Okposo is tied for 16th place in the NHL scoring race with 69 points (27g/42a). Okposo has 21 multi-point games this season, which ranks third in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.
  • Need For 3: The Isles are 24-10-3 when they score at least three goals and are 5-25-7 when they do not.
  • Heavy Hitter: Matt Martin leads the NHL with 322 hits. He’s led the league in hits in each of the last two seasons. In 2011-12, Martin’s 374 hits marked the highest total since hits became an official stat in 2005-06.


Projected Lines

27 Anders Lee – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
56 John Persson – 29 Brock Nelson – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin – 18 Ryan Strome – 13 Colin McDonald

28 Johan Sundstrom – 53 Casey Cizikas – 43 Mike Halmo

44 Calvin de Haan – 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 24 Kevin Czuczman

46 Matt Donovan – 7 Matt Carkner

20 Evgeni Nabokov

45 Anders Nilsson

Scratches : 4 Radek Martinek, 11 Lubomir Visnovsky, 40 Michael Grabner

Injured Reserve : 36 Eric Boulton, 37 Brian Strait, 91 John Tavares

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