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Islanders vs. Panthers Preview: A chance, or a trap?

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Licking their wounds after three third-period losses on this homestand, the Islanders try to get two back against the 15th-place Florida Panthers.

Let's not rely on this again.
Let's not rely on this again.
USA TODAY Sports

After their loss in Newark last night, the Florida Panthers had a familiar lament: Nice effort, no result.

George Richards in the Miami Herald:

Even though the Panthers aren’t getting the results they want every night, they are playing their best hockey of the season.

It has come a lot later than they had hoped, and in a lockout-shortened season. Way too late.

[...]

Said coach Kevin Dineen: "I can sit here and paint the picture that we weren’t bad, chances fairly even, did a good job on the penalty kill. But it’s a results business. We didn’t get it done. Close is just not working. the effort is there, we didn’t give up a lot. We just couldn’t find a way to win."


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/24/3303543/florida-planthers-play-is-better.html#storylink=cpy

Ryan Meier at Litter Box Cats, SB Nation's Panthers site:

Make that three pretty complete games in a row. Despite losing 2-1 against a solid defensive performance by the New Jersey Devils, the Florida Panthers played yet another relatively complete game, something that's only recently been evident.

Nyi-thinblade_medium Fla-eyeslim_medium
Islanders (13-15-3, 12th/E) vs. Panthers (9-17-6, 15th/E)
5 p.m. EDT | MSG+ | Audio:
NHL - WRHU
Nassau [
gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Scratch scratch, lick lick:
Litter Box Cats

Despite their poor record and awful spate of injuries, the Panthers haven't been playing quite as poorly as it looks. (For possession/advanced stats fans: Their possession in close games has been in the high end of average all season, currently at 50.88%.) They've actually notched two of their nine wins since these teams last met a week ago, when the Islanders blew a 3-0 lead but survived to win 4-3 in regulation.

But even when your team is playing "the right way," the lack of high-end talents to make game-breaking plays will hurt you. With guys like Stephen Weiss and even Kris Versteeg out for the season, the Panthers miss too many of those.

So their narrow margin of error is a familiar issue to Islanders fans. And yet, if the Islanders want to salvage something from this 0-3 homestand and get back on the Restore Hope bubble track, they need two points from this one. They sit three points out of eighth (with multiple teams in between), whereas a regulation loss would put them just three points above 15th-place Florida.


Notes
  • For the Panthers, with Scott Clemmensen playing against his old teammates yesterday, look for Jacob Markstrom to get today's start in goal.
  • Dmitry Kulikov returned yesterday from a dislocated shoulder, probably earlier than expected, as Erik Gudbranson was out with flu symptoms. Today's lineup TBD.
  • Jack Skille left yesterday's game hurt.
  • For the Islanders, Evgeni Nabokov starts, Eric Boulton and Radek Martinek remain scratches, and Joe Finley comes back out of the lineup. (So, Thomas Hickey returns.)
  • At the official site, Lubomir Visnovsky on the variety of young partners he's had this season, and the approach that has him pinching in as the "fourth attacker" so often.
  • On the farm: Nino returns to the lineup today, and Michael Fornabaio has a great note on how their season has followed their once-hot (and now cold) powerplay.
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