New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers Preview: Dodging the proverbial trap

You might say John Tavares knows what's at stake. - Bruce Bennett

Trap this, trap that: Winning cures all.

It's inevitable. At this point in the season, you can't look at tonight's 7th-vs.-15th (or more broadly, 15th-vs.-30th) matchup without thinking: 1) It's two points the Isles have to bank, and 2) Oh boy, I hope they don't take it as a given.

Now honestly, there is no risk of scenario two happening. The Islanders know what's at stake and it's resulted in an impressive level of focus and attention to detail during this 8-1-2 run. However, the contest will still be seen as a potential "trap" game because the go-to narrative in the event of a loss will be, "Oh, they took that last-place club lightly." (Hey, we were even talking "trap" last meeting, but the Isles' performance has really taken off since then.)

The 12th-place Flyers beat the 2nd-place Canadiens 7-4 in Montreal last night. Those results happen. All the Isles can do is keep doing what they're doing, which is to say play in a way that minimizes the chances of such disappointment.

Nyi-thinblade_medium Fla-eyeslim_medium
Islanders (21-16-5, 7th/E) vs. Panthers (13-22-6, 15th/E)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+ | Audio:
Nassau [
gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Waiting for Dale to change the litter:
Litter Box Cats

The Panthers' PK has been awful (a league-worst 74%), and their 5-on-5 goal ratio of .62 has been well at the bottom of the league.

So how could the Panthers pull off an upset? Well, they have a young goalie who can give you fits, they're actually a decent possession team at least in close/tied situations, and their powerplay converts at around 20%.

The Isles know. Oh, they know.

Josh Bailey in Brian Compton's article at

"I think being down the stretch here, it's been exciting playing in these games and winning. We've got to keep winning here to make sure that we hold our spot. It's fun, though. I think we're enjoying the moment, but we know at the same time we haven't accomplished anything yet. We've still got quite a few big games to go here."

John Tavares, in the same article:

"You need everybody going and you need contributions from everybody. We have guys stepping up every night, and that makes a huge difference. We just seem to have a good understanding -- individually, and as a team -- of what we have to do to be ready to play every night."

Finally, Thomas Hickey via the club's Twitter:

"Any team can beat any team right now. The Panthers sre a good team & are going to be ready. Guys are out to prove themselves."

Even if things don't go their way tonight, I like their chances of getting the job done in the final six. Their approach lately has been refreshing.

Lineup Notes

The Islanders have taken both prior meetings with the injury-depleted and generally struggling Panthers: A nailbiter they almost blew in Florida on March 16, and a more comfortable Evgeni Nabokov shutout Chris referenced on March 24.

For fans, we don't really need Admiral Akbar to warn us: The nervousness that accompanies games that matter has set in. For the Isles, they just have to keep putting shots on, boxing opponents out of the dangerous areas, and hope the hockey gods have moved on to smiting someone else. Like, say, the Devils.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over here.

And, to re-iterate from the morning thread, have one fantastic time on Fan Appreciation Night. All of Islanders Country deserves a good one.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Lighthouse Hockey

You must be a member of Lighthouse Hockey to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Lighthouse Hockey. You should read them.

Join Lighthouse Hockey

You must be a member of Lighthouse Hockey to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Lighthouse Hockey. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.