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NHL Game Preview: New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers

UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 17:  Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders waits for a faceoff during an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum on February 17, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Daniel FriedmanCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2011

It's been fun to be a New York Islander fan these last few weeks.

The way the Isles have been playing lately would make even the Presidents proud, and they will look to keep their recent success going later today, when they take on the Florida Panthers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The big storyline for this game is Michael Grabner facing the team that cut him after training camp before the season started.

Grabs has 10 more goals than anyone on the Panthers, and it's tough to understand why Cats GM Dale Tallon decided to risk losing Grabner by putting him on waivers, when his team was short on scoring talent.

That move has undoubtedly come back to bite Mr. Tallon, and it probably hurts.

That sits just fine with Grabner and the Islanders, and they wouldn't mind dishing out more pain to this Florida team today.

The Isles are 5-1 in their last six games, and they will be looking to win their second straight game, following a 3-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

The Panthers are not a very good team at all, but they do have Tomas Vokoun, who just so happens to be one of the better goaltenders in the National Hockey League.

Vokoun has shown he is capable of stealing the occasional game for his team, and always brings a strong effort every time he's between the pipes.

The Tavares-Moulson-Parenteau line continues to be the Isles' most productive unit. In the team's last game, J.T. and P.A.P. had two assists apiece, and Moulson scored twice. Look for them to stay fired up for this contest.

 

X-Factor:

The Islanders will have to stay hot on offense, and play another well-rounded game, much like they did against the Kings. If they do that, they'll beat the Panthers.

 

Players to Watch:

1) Michael Grabner: Playing against the team that gave up on him before the season started, I'm sure Grabs will have plenty of motivation to play well against the Panthers. Look for him to have a big game.

2) Josh Bailey: Bails is playing much better hockey these last few weeks, and it's because he's no longer merely setting up plays, he's finishing them off. He's going to have a strong game.

3) P.A. Parenteau: Fresh off his recent contract extension, Parenteau has continued to play very solid hockey as he has all season long.

He had a couple of points in his last outing, and he's been firing on all cylinders ever since the Isles announced their commitment to his spot on this team. I say he'll have another good game today.

 

I'll be at the game today, so if anyone wants to talk hockey, I'm around...just look for a guy in a "Friedman" Islander jersey. Trust me, no one else is wearing one.

I will provide a recap following the contest.

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