2020 NHL Playoffs – Qualifying Round – NYI vs. FLA

Updated: July 31, 2020 at 1:35 pm by Brock Seguin

The New York Islanders enjoyed a quality campaign in 2019 and followed it up with another solid season in a loaded Metropolitan Division. Despite being just six wins off of last year’s pace, the Isles went from second in the division to sixth but were still in a playoff position when the season was paused. They shocked the hockey world with a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round but were unceremoniously swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round. Now they take on the Florida Panthers to try and earn a second-straight playoff berth and extend the Panthers’ drought.

Florida has snot made the playoffs in the last three seasons and have not won a playoff series since the third year of the franchise in 1996. In their first season under Joel Quenneville, the Panthers nearly matched last season’s win total in 13 fewer games. Jonathan Huberdeau led the way, matching his career-high in points-per-game, posting 78 points (23G / 55A) through 69 games.

The Islanders swept the season series 3-to-0, outscoring the Panthers 8-to-4.


Record

35-23-10 (11th)

35-26-8 (t-15th)

GF/PG

2.78 (22nd)

3.30 (6th)

GA/PG

2.79 (9th)

3.25 (t-28th)

5v5 SV%

.923 (10th)

.911 (29th)

PP%

17.3% (24th)

21.3% (10th)

PK%

80.7% (15th)

78.5% (20th)

CF%

46.45 (29th)

49.79 (16th)

Avg. Age

28.9 (Oldest)

27.1 (11th Youngest)

Playoff Experience

817 (8th)

507 (17th)

5v5

Projected Lineups

Lee – Barzal – Eberle

Beauvillier – Nelson – Bailey

Johnston – Pageau – Brassard

Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck

Leddy – Boychuk

Toews – Mayfield

Pelech – Pulock

Vatrano – Barkov – Dadonov

Huberdeau – Haula – Hoffman

Boyle – Wallmark – Connolly

Sceviour – Acciari – Pysyk

Weegar – Ekblad

Stillman – Stralman

Yandle – Matheson

The Islanders are this perceived stingy 5v5 team that doesn’t give up any quality under head coach Barry Trotz. However, when you dive into the numbers, you find that that’s far from actuality. While they don’t give up a ton of shots (15th in the NHL) they actually give up a lot of quality looks. They gave up the fifth-most Scoring Chances Against and fourth-most High-Danger Chances Against per 60 minutes in the NHL this season.

When you look at Florida you see that they were sixth in the NHL in scoring and you’d think they are an offensive powerhouse but that’s as fake as the Islanders being stingy. Throughout the regular season, Florida was 18th in Expected Goals For, 25th in Scoring Chances and 26th in High Danger Chances, so hardly a force to be reckoned with.

The truth about both of these teams is that they were fortunate to have the results they did, at least at 5v5. Florida’s high offensive output was buoyed by the sixth-highest shooting percentage while the “stingy” Islanders were actually just propped up by their strong goaltending.

This 5v5 battle could end up being decided by which team gets luckier or simply which team’s goaltender plays better.

Advantage: Even

Special Teams

Projected PP Units

PP1: Lee – Pageau – Eberle

Barzal – Pulock

PP2: Beauvillier – Nelson – Bailey

Brassard – Toews

PP1: Huberdeau – Barkov – Dadonov

Hoffman – Yandle

PP2: Boyle – Haula – Connolly

Vatrano – Ekblad

When these teams are on the power-play or shorthanded they are also a little fraudulent. Florida was terrific on the PP this season, ranking 10th in overall percentage. However, they were 19th in xGF and Scoring Chances For with the man advantage, so once again they were a little fortunate to have as much success as they did. Conversely, the Islanders were pretty average on the PK, ranking 15th in PK% but surrendered the most shorthanded Scoring Chances Against/60 of any team in the NHL. Their leaky PK should help the Panthers continue to have success on the PP.

The Islanders power-play was the eighth-worst percentage but they produced Scoring Chance at a better rate than that percentage would suggest. A lack of high-end goal-scorers is likely to blame for the eighth-worst PP Shooting percentage. Florida was pretty decent at limiting scoring chances on the PK, so this battle should be pretty even.

Advantage: Slight Florida

Goaltending

It’s a pretty strange matchup between the skaters but the goaltending situation is a little clearer.

New York has two quality netminders they can turn to but it looks like Semyon Varlamov will start Game 1. He will be countered by his fellow countryman Sergei Bobrovsky.

Varlamov had the much better season of the two but still hovered around league average. He was 15th in Goals Saved Above Average (5.27), 16th in GAA (2.62) and tied for 21st in SV% (.914).

Fresh off a massive contract, Bobrovsky struggled mightily. He had the worst season of his career, ranking fourth-worst in GSAA (-13.80) and GAA (3.23) and fifth-worst SV% (.900). It wouldn’t be unusual to see Bobrovsky come in and stand on his head in the postseason though. He was mediocre during the 2019 regular season but then posted a .932 SV% to lead the Blue Jackets to a four-game sweep over the Lighting.

Advantage: Even

Prediction: Florida in 5

This is probably the toughest matchup to call because both teams are so mercurial. If the good Bobrovsky shows up, this could be a quick series but he has given no indication that will happen during the 2020 calendar year. Still, the Panthers have enough firepower to break through against a below-average Islanders squad.



Fantasy Hockey, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, NHL, NHL Playoffs