Key Matchup-

Young Aleksander Barkov has made big moves this season and he will be matched up against elite John Tavares. Tavares has beat Barkov in possession while Barkov has narrowly beat out Tavares in scoring. It will be interesting seeing these two centers go up against each other again.

Florida Panthers-

Winning Formula: 

The Panthers get on the board quickly and takes any opportunity they can to score. The team’s highest point of the past season was an impressive twelve game winning streak with racked up 25 goals on their part. Roberto Luongo will also play a big park in any success as he returns to form in the crease.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  

The Panthers tend to score early, but cannot always sustain that momentum. They are going into these playoffs with a negative scoring differential in the third period and were just 1-6 in overtime games. In past playoffs OT has been a regular occurrence so that does not bode with for the Panthers unless they can keep the same momentum from start to finish.

NY Islanders-

Winning Formula:

The Islanders play one of the most physical games in the NHL. They are brutal on the teams they face and Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin lead the bashing from the fourth line. The Isles surprisingly have one of the least penalized teams in the league and a superb penalty kill. They have a balanced team where everyone makes a contribution which is vital in a playoff run.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

John Tavares has struggled this last season to produce compared to past seasons. The team is average compared to others in terms of puck possession. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak is out with a lower body injury and if he returns it is questioned if he could play at the same caliber as before he was injured right off the bat. Thomas Greiss is in backup, but the playoffs have a way of breaking even the best goalies, and Greiss has not made more than 25 appearances in an NHL season until this one.

Prediction: Panthers in 6

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