The New York Islanders are in southern Florida for the second game of their Sunshine State swing, where they’ll hope to avoid being victims of a state sweep against the Panthers.
Nothing about the Isles’ recent play indicates reason for hope, but that’s why they play the games.
By the standings, the Panthers actually aren’t faring much better at 6-7-1 and just a point above the 5-7-2 Isles. Both teams are in that “we kind of need to get it together or else” phase where early-season .500-ness can quickly turn to bottom-of-the-bubble straits.
However, that’s deceiving. The Panthers’ underlying numbers have been more promising, and more indicative of the team that scared the Avery out of the Islanders in last spring’s playoffs but for the greater glory of John Tavares and Thomas Greiss.
Greiss will not be in net tonight, however — not unless things go wrong. Jaroslav Halak will start his fifth straight. The lone lineup change is Anthony Beauvillier back in for Alan Quine.
The Panthers have also been hit with some injuries this season, though Islander killer Jussi Jokinen has returned to health just in time. Newly acquired former Ranger first-rounder Dylan McIlrath will not be in the lineup, however.
In goal, it’s old friend Roberto Luongo, who seems like 25,000 Islanders crises ago.
For Panthers updates, check out Litter Box Cats.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EST.