The Isles open their series against Florida as 1.5 goal favorites with a 6.5 over/under
The New York Islanders will be the second team from the Tristate area to be represented in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. The Isles, who finished the regular season sixth in the Metropolitan Division, will go up against the new-look Florida Panthers who placed fourth in the Atlantic Division. One of these teams comes into this series looking hot while the other team still struggles to find an identity.
The Panthers enter this series as the lower-ranked team. Despite playing more games, Florida finished the season with just 78 points. That’s not bad, but it is fewer points than the Islanders had this year, so the Panthers come into this one as the underdog. To be fair, the Isles should be favored in this series. Florida has only reached the postseason once since 2012. Meanwhile, the Islanders come into this one refreshed and ready. It also doesn’t hurt that the Isles were able to complete a playoff sweep of the Penguins last year.
One man is going to be the difference-maker in this series, Sergei Bobrovsky. The Panthers’ new goalie will be the reason Florida either wins or loses the series. If Bob plays well, then the Panthers will win this series in four or five games. However, if Bobrovsky does not play well, then the Islanders will win this series for sure, probably in a sweep. In order to figure out who to pick in this one, you have to dive deeper into Bobrovsky’s career and look at the numbers and the trends.
Ever since becoming a regular starter in 2012, Sergei Bobrovsky has proven he is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. Over the last eight years, Bob was named an all-star twice and was also named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy twice, which is awarded to the best goalie in the NHL. In fact, Bob led the NHL in goals allowed and save percentage in 2016 and also recorded the most shutouts in the league last season. With a 2.54 GAA, Sergei Bobrovsky has shown that he is one of the best goalies in the NHL… during the regular season.
Unfortunately, Sergei Bobrovsky is not the same goaltender during the playoffs as he is during the regular season. As a Columbus Blue Jackets fan, I have seen up close what Sergei Bobrovsky is capable of at his best. From everything I have gathered, I can tell you that Sergei Bobrovsky is nothing more than Hockey’s version of Clayton Kershaw. Just like Kershaw, Bob is good during the regular-season and puts up good numbers against weak teams, but he has never been able to get the job done in the postseason, and it lingers over him like a stain on his permanent record. With an 11-18 postseason record and a Goals Allowed Average of more than three, Florida fans should be a little nervous headed into this series.
So the most important question surrounding the Panthers is which Sergei Bobrovsky are you going to get? Are you going to get the Bobrovsky who helped the Blue Jackets sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games last year? Or are you going to get the Bobrovsky that always lets up a few too many easy goals when it counts? Let’s look at the Panthers’ most recent exhibition game to see where Bob is at. It looks like Florida… (adjusts glasses) lost five to nothing and surrendered three goals in the first period. So Bob is bad right now. This spells disaster for the Panthers.
I am without question picking the Islanders to win this game and the whole series. Sergei Bobrovsky is in the middle of one of his worst seasons as a starter. On top of that, the Islanders have an experienced postseason goalie in Thomas Greiss. Florida is not ready for the spotlight of the playoffs. Islanders win the game and cover the spread, but I’m picking the under.