Prediction: Islanders in 5
Result: Islanders in 4
I’d be lying if I said I watched a lot of this one. Is it me, or were the game times always buried at the noon slot on a weekday? It could be that, or that the Islanders style of play just isn’t that appealing to watch. But hey, don’t mess with results. They swept an appealing-to-watch team in the Penguins last year. In their three wins they held the Panthers to 4 total goals, a pretty good recipe for success. I gave the Panthers the edge in forwards, but the Islanders kept Barkov and Huberdeau to just a goal a piece.
Must-see TV: Mathew Barzal (Islanders #13)
It’s difficult to be must-see TV when you’re playing at noon on a Tuesday, but for the Islanders, this HAS to be Barzal, right? With all due respect to Anthony Beauvillier who led the team with 5 points, Barzal is always the asterisk to the “Islanders are boring” take. He only had three points in the series, but that just means he’s due for more production in Round 1. Also, for fans of the Mighty Ducks franchise (film, not hockey), his speed led to a terrifying tumble into the boards reminiscent of a young Luis Mendoza. Thankfully, he’s okay.
The Islanders play the winner of the Bruins and Capitals game, going on right now. Currently, the Caps lead 1-0. I think the Hurricanes are the team to avoid, but maybe that’s just me continuing to disrespect the Islanders style of play. Both Boston and Washington sport top end talent, and the Islanders have demonstrated the ability to shut down marquee players in a 7 game series. On top of that, neither the Bruins or Capitals seem to be on their game. Can the top seeds flip the switch against a suffocating structure like New York’s?
The Panthers, on the other hand, like all other qualifying failures, have the opportunity to draft a difference maker. With teams like the Penguins, Oilers, and potentially Maple Leafs in the mix, having the Panthers win Phase 2 would just be **chefs kiss**.