The Islanders Are In A Playoff Race?
Florida Panthers @ New York Islanders – Sunday March 24, 2013 5:00PM EST
What a difference a season can make. The online betting experts remember last season when the Florida Panthers took advantage of a weak Southeast Division to win a division title and squeak into the playoffs. The Panthers didn’t last long in the postseason, but just the fact that this underachieving team was able to be there when the playoffs started was a major accomplishment. This season, the rug was pulled out from under Florida and it is now the worst team in the Eastern Conference with no little to no chance of making the playoffs.
The New York Islanders were in the same spot last season that the Panthers are in this season. The sportsbook hockey fans remember the Islanders struggling to get out of the Eastern Conference basement, but never getting very far. As this game rolls around, the Islanders find themselves only three points out of a playoff spot and the very real possibility of achieving the sixth spot in the conference if New York can put together a consistent winning streak. In this shortened season, the Islanders are taking nothing for granted.
Why the Panthers Will Win
The Panthers will have to settle for playing the role of spoiler the rest of this season, but the betting sites are not so sure that Florida is up to the task. The Panthers have a 2-7-1 record in its last 10 games, but it manage a recent win over the Carolina Panthers that should give the team some level of confidence heading into this game. The Panthers are probably going to cut loose goaltender Jose Theodore when this season is over, but the team is going to give Theodore a chance to put on a display for any future teams that may want him.
Why the Islanders Will Win
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov appears to be exactly what the Islanders needed to start a playoff run. Regular starting goaltender Rick DiPietro has been nothing but a disappointment ever since signing his unnecessarily long contract a few years ago and the Islanders have been looking for stability in net ever since. The Islanders actually have a decent corps of young players that can score goals and put pressure on an opposing goalie. With the addition of Nabokov, the Islanders become a bit more of a playoff contender with a chance at reaching its playoff goals.
The Bottom Line
The New York Islanders will play the rest of this season with a sense of urgency that the team has not felt in a long time. The Panthers had that sense of urgency last season, but Florida no longer has anything to be urgent about. This game will be dominated by the Islanders from the moment the puck is first dropped to the last whistle.
Pick: New York Islanders
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