NHL Qualifying Round Preview: New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers

While we’re still a ways off from the restart of the NHL season, we do know who will face off in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Those series are a best of five series with the winners advancing to the normal field of 16 teams for the start of what most people consider the actual postseason. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at each series in the qualifying round and give our thoughts on the matter, along with the best options when it comes to placing bets on each series. We now take a look at the 7/10 matchup in the Eastern Conference as the New York Islanders take on the Florida Panthers.

#7 New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points) vs. #10 Florida Panthers (35-26-8, 78 points)

Head to Head Matchups:

October 12, 2019: New York Islanders 3, Florida 1

November 9, 2019: New York Islanders 2, Florida 1

December 12, 2019: New York Islanders 3, Florida 1

Series Odds According to VegasInsider.com:

Odds to Win the Series: New York Islanders -120, Florida -102

Odds For Total Games in the Series: 3 Games (+260), 4 Games (+150), 5 Games (+150)

Odds for Actual Series Result: New York Islanders 3-0 (+550), New York Islanders 3-1 (+360), New York Islanders 3-2 (+370), Florida 3-0 (+650), Florida 3-1 (+400), Florida 3-2 (+390)

Team Statistics:

New York Islanders: 2.78 goals per game for (22nd), 2.79 goals per game against (9th), 17.3% power play percentage (Tied for 24th), 80.7% penalty killing (15th)

Florida: 3.30 goals per game for (6th), 3.25 goals per game against (tied for 28th), 21.3% power play percentage (Tied for 10th), 78.5% penalty killing (20th)

Team Leaders:

New York Islanders:

Points: Mathew Barzal 60, Goals: Brock Nelson 26, Assists: Barzal 41

Goalie Wins: Semyon Varlamov 19, GAA: Varlamov 2.62, Shutouts: Varlamov 2, Save %: Varlamov .914


Points: Jonathan Huberdeau 78, Goals: Mike Hoffman 29, Assists: Huberdeau 55

Goalie Wins: Sergei Bobrovsky 23, GAA: Chris Driedger 2.05, Shutouts: Bobrovsky/Driedger 1, Save %: Driedger .938


New York played a typical Barry Trotz type of system this season, relying on tough defensive zone play and goaltending to prop them up thanks to spotty offensive play. The Islanders got off to a 22-7-2 start after the opening 31 games of the season before things started to unravel. New York went 13-16-8 the rest of the way, including a miserable 2-7-4 stretch over their final 13 games. That included a 0-3-4 run in the final seven games of the regular season before the pause. New York is going to have to get some better offensive production in the playoffs if they hope to get somewhere in the playoffs.

The Islanders sputtered down the stretch and Trotz may have to back one goaltender, especially in a short series. That would be a deviation from the regular season plan, when there was about a 60/40 split in playing time. Varlamov appeared in 45 games while Thomas Greiss played in 31 contests. Varlamov finished the regular season with 19 wins while Greiss had 16 and their save percentages were nearly identical at .914 and .913, respectively. Varlamov has 25 career playoff starts while Greiss has 11. It’s going to be interesting to see what Trotz does in that regard, especially given the fact that Nelson and Anders Lee (20 goals) are the only guys to hit the 20-goal plateau this season. If the Islanders struggle defensively, they could have problems.

Florida is a prolific offensive team that has the ability to pile up goals in bunches. The Panthers had five players that put up at least 20 goals on the season, giving them the capability to roll multiple dangerous scoring lines. Noel Acciari (20 goals) is one of the best third-line scoring options in the league and he can do damage shorthanded as well. The Panthers have a pair of dynamic offensive weapons on the blueline in Keith Yandle (five goals, 40 assists) and Aaron Ekblad (five goals, 36 assists) to lead the way.

Sergei Bobrovsky was supposed to be the answer for the ongoing goaltending woes for the Panthers. However, he had his struggles to keep the puck out of his own net this season. Bobrovsky was 23-19-6 on the year with a 3.23 GAA and a .900 save percentage in his 50 games. Those were steep declines from his 37-24-1 mark, 2.58 GAA, nine shutouts and .913 save percentage over 62 games with the Blue Jackets in 2018-19. Driedger (7-2-1 in 10 games) and Samuel Montembeault (5-5-1 in 14 games) are both rookies so Joel Quenneville likely will lean on Bobrovsky and hope that he can find his game.

The Panthers had battled with the Maple Leafs for what would have been the final guaranteed playoff spot in the Atlantic Division before the pause and eventual cancellation of the regular season. Florida has the ability to put the puck in net with regularity and make teams try to play catch up. While the Islanders are an excellent defensive zone team, they also fell apart heading into the pause. Trotz is going to have to try and instill the confidence that the team had in the first couple months of the season if they hope to avoid an early exit. I’m just not sold on the Islanders’ ability to light the lamp enough. Look for Florida’s offense to do enough to take care of things and Bobrovsky steal a game to help the Panthers spring the minor upset here.


Florida to Win Series -102

Florida to Win Series in 5 Games +390

Series to Go 5 Games +150

Author Profile
Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.