Isles Panthers Pregame Thoughts

TheDriveForFive's picture

A battle of two rebuilding franchises will take place tonight between the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders.

However, they are two teams that are very different from one another.

The Islanders on one hand are hoping, almost praying, that guys like Sean Bergenheim, Kyle Okposo and Jeff Tambellini can develop into superstars and take them to the next level. They’re also hoping that guys like Mike Comrie, Trent Hunter and Richard Park can have career years, while keeping their fingers crossed that Doug Weight and Bill Guerin can prove they have some gas left in their tanks.

The Panthers on the other hand, missed the painfully obvious memo last season that most of the kids they’ve drafted over the past few years have turned into decent players, rather than the superstars they’ve envisioned. Sure Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan’s Famous Horton and David Booth are great players that any team would like to have, but even the biggest Panthers fan would have a problem explaining what went wrong with guys like Stephen Weiss, who was supposed to a point a game player in this league at one point and Rusty Olesz, who prefers to hit people from behind nowadays, rather than put the puck in the net; something he hasn’t shown too much proficiency doing yet anyway. After that, they have former high picks like Shawn Matthias, Kamil Kreps and Anthony Stewart, who are servicable players that are merely taking up space on the bottom two lines. Add in acquisition Corey Stillman, who has never been the same player since leaving the Lightning and it’s easy to see how similar, yet different these two teams really are.

So with that being said, what do the Islanders need to do to come out victorious tonight? The same thing they did against the Lightning: SKATE! If the Isles keep those legs moving, they will draw penalties and with the way Hunter and Weight have played over the past few games, the Isles can and will pot few with the man advantage.

However, there is another way the team can give themselves a chance at victory tonight and that is having a healthy Rick DiPietro in net. Newsday beat writer Greg Logan seems to think DP is in the net tonight and I have to agree. He’s been off the ice first in practice, which is customary for the starting goaltender of the next game and I think after the 6-0 loss in his first game in the preseason, his conditioning may finally be where it’s supposed to be now. If he is healthy, the Islanders just got their best player back and a third defenseman on the ice that will keep the Panthers at bay behind the goal line.

If not, Joey MacDonald will get the call and that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Despite the one game against Buffalo, where the team’s defense called in sick, Mac has been good enough for the Isles.

At any rate, regardless of who is in net, this should be a fun one to watch.