New York Islanders at Florida Panthers game preview – FOXSports.com
TV: FOX Sports Florida Time: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Islanders won that series in six games, extinguishing a Panthers season that had seen Florida claim the Atlantic Division for the first time after winning a franchise-record 47 games.
Both teams topped 100 points last season. Both entered this season as Stanley Cup contenders with odds floating between 21-1 (Panthers) and 23-1 (Islanders).
But so far this season, neither team is doing very well. Florida (6-7-1) is in last place in the Atlantic. New York (5-7-2) is next-to-last in the Metropolitan Division.
There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference, all battling for eight playoff spots, and the Panthers and Islanders are each digging themselves a hole.
After losing a home game 4-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, Florida coach Gerard Gallant intimated that his team is close to regaining its 2015-2016 form.
“I like the way we’ve played most of our games,” Gallant said. “But if you look at the San Jose game, three mistakes, and they are in the back of our net.”
The fourth Sharks goal was an empty-netter, but the message was clear: The Panthers need to focus for the full 60 minutes and beyond in case of overtime.
Florida did get some help on the injury front on Thursday with the return of left winger Jussi Jokinen. Center Nick Bjugstad should return next week.
The Panthers are expected to start Roberto Luongo in goal against New York. Backup James Reimer, who took the loss against the Sharks on Thursday,