The Islanders and Panthers will be facing off on August 1st at 4:00 PM ET. This series will feature stars from both ends, with centreman Mat Barzal looking to prove himself to be one of the best in the league, up-and-coming defenceman Adam Pelech back from injury, and playoff star Josh Bailey. The Panthers will make use of their star power with Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad, and Sergei Bobrovsky all seeking to show their effectiveness. Our writers each have different takes on how the series will turn out for both teams.
Ben Kule: Islanders 3-1 Panthers
The reason I picked the Islanders to defeat the Panthers in 4 games is because I think the Isles can score just enough goals to dominate series. Despite surprisingly having 6 players in the top 100 in goals this season (the most of any team) the Panthers offense doesn’t come close to overpowering the Islanders defense. The Islanders’ defense is beautifully complimented by their goaltending, so it will be hard for Florida to score many goals as New York allowed the seventh-lowest number of average runs. When the Isles have the puck, that is where they can do some damage. Their offense has been criticized, but so has Sergei Bobrovsky in the Panthers’ crease. In their exhibition game Tampa scores at free will, and although our offense isn’t as good as Tampa’s, we should take enough shots and score enough to give us the edge. I think there will be one of four games where our defense falls apart and Florida takes over, but I truly believe the Isles have the edge here.
Will Wiegelman: Islanders 3-1 Panthers
There is too much talent and ability on the Panthers for them to not pick up at least one game. Barkov and Huberdeau are underrated and no one is talking about Mike Hoffman for some reason. In addition, they have Coach Q who is one of the best in the game. However, Bobrovsky concerns me, even against the Islanders’ offense. He hasn’t looked good most of the season and he looked bad in the exhibition game. The Islanders will be able to score enough to beat the Panthers’ offense vs their stingy defense.
David Lazar: Islanders 3-2 Panthers
A five-game series is going to be unbelievably unpredictable. Nobody knows how this postseason will go. Nonetheless, I think momentum will be huge. If the Islanders get off to a great start, that will go a long way. The defense needs to outlast the Panthers offense and I think that will happen. Islanders in 5.
Shawn D’Aversa: Islanders 3-1 Panthers
Despite the Panthers’ talent in their top-six, the Islanders are the far more complete and deep team. Defensive teams usually seem to come out on top against offensive juggernauts. Judging by their preseason games, the Islanders’ defensive structure is exactly how they want it to be as they have found their identity again with key players such as Adam Pelech and Casey Cizikas returning to the lineup. Sergei Bobrovsky seemed shaky in his exhibition game against Tampa, and their defense was abysmal. While the Islanders’ don’t have much offensive talent, if they stick to their defensive structure and Semyon Varlamov plays solid, fundamental goaltending, the momentum should go in New York’s favor and they should be able to pop a few goals past Sergei Bobrovsky. The Panthers, however, have one of the best top-six forward groups in the league, which should make this series very competitive and lead them to a victory in a game or two. All in all, the Isles are built for the Playoffs, while the Cats are not there yet. In what should be a good series, New York should come out victorious in four games.
Ethan Halle: Islanders 3-0 Panthers
The Islanders are simply structured better than Florida. When healthy, this Islanders team is unbeatable and has shown this earlier in the season. New York has not shown up when they are injured, but given the long COVID break, they should be able to return to their former selves and show the hockey world who they really are. Although Florida has the talent, the Islanders have a better all-around system.
Jake Blackmore: Islanders 3-1 Panthers
Similar to the feelings of many other writers, the Islanders’ healthy defensive machine should be able to shut down the Panthers’ above-average offense. The Isles have had glaring goal-scoring problems, but with the Panthers’ lackluster defense, the Islanders shouldn’t have too many issues on the other end of the ice. This series will be defined by the Isles’ strong defense against the Panthers’ strong offense. In the end, the Islanders and Panthers are simply unmatched, as defense will win you championships.