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New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers: Game 1 [Game Thread]

The tournament of purity and uncertainty begins.

New York Islanders v Florida Panthers
The rematch
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

New York Islanders hockey is back, and today’s afternoon game could be the start of a long, fascinating journey, or the first glimpse of something that is here and gone by Tuesday.

The Islanders had an unblemished record against the Florida Panthers this season, but when the pandemic suspended — sorry, “paused” — the season, the teams were trending in opposite directions: The Islanders on a skid, the Panthers finally getting things together.

Of course, each team’s lone exhibition game was the inverse, with the Islanders in disciplined lead-preserving smothering of the Rangers (who lost Game 1 vs. the Hurricanes today), and the Panthers getting trounced by Eastern bye team the Lightning.

Without morning skates and such, there isn’t much intel on what to expect today, but Barry Trotz is likely to go with ol’ reliable Default Mode:

Anders LeeMathew BarzalJordan Eberle
Anthony BeauvillierBrock NelsonJosh Bailey
Tom Kuhnhackl — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Derick Brassard
Matt MartinCasey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Adam PelechRyan Pulock
Devon ToewsScott Mayfield
Nick LeddyJohnny Boychuk

Semyon Varlamov

That would mean old Kuhnhackl getting the nod over Ross Johnston and veterans like Uncle Leo and Andrew Ladd.

The Panthers? has a projected lineup for them too (though our Litter Box Cats friends were hoping for something different):

Frank VatranoAleksander BarkovEvgenii Dadonov
Jonathan HuberdeauErik HaulaMike Hoffman
Dryden Hunt/Dominic Toninato(?) — Brian BoyleBrett Connolly
Colton SceviourNoel AcciariMark Pysyk

MacKenzie WeegarAaron Ekblad
Riley StillmanAnton Stralman
Keith YandleMike Matheson

Sergei Bobrovsky

There was a late update that Lucas Wallmark was not on the ice, so Hunt or Toninato may take his place.

We shall see. Today’s Game 1 at 4 p.m. EDT is on each team’s local cable outlet, plus nationally on NBC Sports (U.S.) and TVA and Sportsnet in Canada.