The Islanders have dropped all three games to the Panthers this season, Florida looking to sweep the series for the first time since going 5-0-0 against the Isles during its expansion season of 1993-94.
Prior to this season, Panthers hadn't won season series against Isles since 1999-2000. Of course, Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo were members of the Islanders way back then.
-- Speaking of Luongo, Rick DiPietro back in net for the Isles tonight. Ricky D got lit up last night, losing 8-4 to the Lightning over on the other side of the state. DiPietro got called out a bit by coach Ted Nolan after the game, but that isn't costing him a start. The Isles are clinging to playoff hope, their 71 points even worse than the Panthers.
-- Florida has won four straight, looking to win five straight for the first time since about this time last year when the Cats (also way out of playoff contention) won seven straight.
-- OK, can the Panthers make the playoffs? Sure, mathematically, they can. But to think Florida will make the postseason, one has to believe that "anything can happen," that the Panthers can win 10 of their final 11 while at the same time Carolina and Washington both implode. Can it happen? Sure. Will it? All I know is I plan on golfing April 7, returning to the arena on the 8th for the annual clean out the locker day.
Of course the team can't think this way, they have to look at every game left on the schedule as a playoff game. If they win tonight, they move on to Friday. If they win that, look toward Atlanta on Sunday. They can't look a game ahead, can't look back. They just have to win, win and win. If Carolina loses, good for them. But they can't be concerned with that, they can only do what they do. Those squandered six points last month sure would come in handy right now.