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 Post subject: for him more than
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:26 am 
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The Florida Panthers were supposed to be serious playoff contenders this season Womens Patrice Bergeron Jersey , and the New York Islanders, well, weren’t.But through roughly the first-eighth of this season, the opposite seemed true.The Islanders, who visit the Panthers on Saturday night at the BB&T Center, entered the weekend atop the Metropolitan Division with 18 points and an 8-5-2 record.Article continues below ...New York hasn’t seemed bothered by what many hockey writers predicted would be a catastrophe for the franchise — superstar center John Tavares’ decision to bolt to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent.“We know we can play with anyone,” Islanders center Mathew Barzal said of his team sans Tavares. “We know we can beat anyone.”Meanwhile, the Panthers, who finished just one point short of the playoffs last season and then traded for winger Mike Hoffman — who has averaged better than 25 goals in each of the past four seasons — entered the weekend tied for last in the NHL with 11 points.But it appears Florida’s fortunes are changing. Goalie Roberto Luongo, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, injured his right knee in the season opener. Ever since he got back, the Panthers are undefeated at 2-0-0.“It’s good to get on a roll,” said Luongo, who has a stellar 1.19 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage in three games this season. “We’ve got to keep pushing hard.”Assuming Luongo gets the start Saturday, he will be facing an Islanders team that has lost two straight games, allowing eight goals during that span.Winger Evgenii Dadonov leads the Panthers this season in goals (seven) and points (14). Hoffman is tied for third on the team with 11 points Youth Brandon Carlo Jersey , and he also has a career-best 10-game points streak.In 25 years of Panthers history, only three other players have had points streaks of that duration – Pavel Bure, Olli Jokinen and Jussi Jokinen.“I guess it’s good,” Hoffman modestly said of his streak. “You’ve got to get a couple of lucky breaks to have a streak like that, but I’m just trying to help the team win as many games as possible.”Hoffman leads Florida in power-play goals (three) and power-play shots (43). He has led a Panthers power play that has recovered since starting the season with no goals in 13 tries.In their last five games, Florida has gone 7 of 23 on its power play.As for the Islanders, they are led in scoring in points by Josh Bailey (17) and in goals by Brock Nelson (seven).In goal, the Islanders have Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner. Greiss is 4-2-1 with a 1.98 GAA and .940 save percentage. Lehner is 4-3-1 with a 2.53 GAA and a .924 save percentage.One issue for the Islanders is that left winger Matt Martin, who has three goals in 11 games this season, has an upper-body injury. If he can’t play against the Panthers, that would be the fourth straight game he has missed.Florida is relatively healthy, especially now that Luongo is back. Most of the Panthers’ current injuries are to players who are bottom-six forwards or Mark Pysyk, who is one of their bottom-three defensemen. In other words, Florida’s injuries are manageable now that Luongo has returned. The Carolina Hurricanes have undergone considerable change in the offseason, with the makeover creating heightened expectations going into the season.That description perhaps relates to perhaps an even larger degree for the New York Islanders.After all, fresh off coaching the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup championship Karl Alzner Jersey Womens , Barry Trotz is on board directing the Islanders.Article continues below ...New York and the Hurricanes begin the season with a clash Thursday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.Trotz became the Islanders coach two weeks after he guided the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in June. He has offered solid reviews for how his new team has responded during the preseason.“They’ve been fantastic,” Trotz said of his players. “They’ve been listening and doing the right things.”Former Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour is the Carolina coach, taking over after Bill Peters opted out of his contract and landed as the coach of the Calgary Flames.Brind’Amour had been serving as an assistant coach, but he’s most recognizable as the captain of the 2006 team that that captured the franchise’s only Stanley Cup.“I like how young guys are playing,” Brind’Amour said. “They’re going to take some time to develop. As far as talent, I don’t feel we’re short anything. We want to play aggressively.”Another throwback to that title team is winger Justin Williams, who was named the Hurricanes’ captain.“I see us trending upward,” Williams said.The Islanders, who have missed the playoffs the past two seasons, have Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner as goalies. Now it’s a matter of blending the roster.“We’ve got a lot of new players on the hockey club,” said Trotz, whose team will carry seven defensemen to start the season. “I’m a big believer in team building. If the group is strong, all that stuff becomes a tighter bond. We’ve got some guys getting an identity and I think we’ve got some guys going in the right direction.”The Hurricanes haven’t reached the postseason since 2009, so the drought is notable and comes with change.The roster makeover included the departure of former NHL Rookie of the Year Jeff Skinner, a forward who was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for prospects.After a splendid 5-0-1 preseason Joel Armia Jersey Womens , the Hurricanes were forced to scramble when goalie Scott Darling suffered an injury in the last preseason outing that might keep him out for a couple of weeks. Carolina claimed Curtis McElhinney off waivers from Toronto.The opening-night starter in net for the Hurricanes will be Petr Mrazek.Darling, who was largely disappointing in his first season with the Hurricanes, had made an impression in recent weeks.“I hate it for him more than anything because he put in the work this summer,” Brind’Amour said. “In the little time we got to see him, he looked to different to me.”Carolina also is carrying seven defensemen at the start. One of them is newcomer Calvin de Haan, who played last season for the Islanders. New York winger Andrew Ladd, who began his career with Carolina, begins the season on injured reserve.The Islanders were 2-2 against Carolina last season, with Greiss in net for both the victories.This is the Islanders’ 47th season, but only the second time they’ll face the Hurricanes in an opener. In 2014, New York began the season by defeating Carolina.The Islanders are 9-19-8 when opening the season on the road. Overall, they are 11-23-11 in openers for the third-worst mark among current NHL franchises — with Carolina at 9-20-9 even worst (counting time as the Hartford Whalers).This marks the first opening of the season for Carolina under new team owner Tom Dundon, whose purchase of the team became official last winter.


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