Florida Panthers 13-22-6 (32 pts) at New York Islanders 21-16-5 (47 pts)
It is now official, the Florida Panthers will not be in the playoffs this season. Florida was mathematically eliminated on Saturday when the New York Rangers picked up two points in a 1-0 overtime victory over the New York Islanders. While that game held symbolic meaning for the Panthers, the importance for tonight’s Panther opponent, the Islanders, was startlingly real.
The New York Islanders hold the 7th spot in the Easter Conference. They are one point ahead of the 8th place Rangers and three points ahead of the 9th place Winnipeg Jets. When the Panthers travel to Long Island tonight they do so with the opportunity to throw a monkey wrench in the Isles’ playoff plans. According to Sports Club Stats (a website that is seriously worth checking out for any sports geek) the Islanders have an 82.7% chance of making the playoffs. If they lose outright to the Panthers tonight, that number drops to 67.9%.
Tonight’s Panthers-Islanders game is just one of many that will have an impact on the Easter Conference playoff race. Other important games include the Rangers at Philadelphia, Tampa Bay at Winnipeg, and Toronto at Washington. If the Panthers are able to defeat the Isles tonight they will be doing a massive favor for their Southeast Division Rival Winnipeg Jets.
While all this playoff talk is fascinating, it is a bummer that the Panthers only enter the conversation when they face off against playoff teams, like the geek in school who only gets noticed by the cool kids when there is an upcoming test. Looking at the Panthers and Islanders’ man games lost stat illustrates the stark contrast between these two teams’ seasons. The Islanders currently have zero players on their injury list and have had 81 man games lost this season. The Panthers on the other hand have six players on their injury report and have had 220 man games lost this year.
Yesterday in my preview of the Panthers’ remaining games I game this game a potential 8/10 excitement rating based off the playoff implications involved. I stand by that rating as I think their will be an electricity in Nassau Coliseum as the fans should be primed to urge their team into the playoffs in this the last Islanders regular season home game.
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