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New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders

Team Record: 3-2-0

Last Game: 4-1 L vs. TBL
Season Series: 0-1-0 of 4
Team Record: 3-3-0
Last Game: 3-0 L vs. BUF
Season Series: 1-0-0 of 4
Steve Staios
The Isles defenseman may not be on the score sheet just yet, but he has played well in his first five games as an Islander.

"Not only does he move the puck and jump into the play at the right times, but he blocks shots and defends well," Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. "I thought he had an excellent game (Thursday). He made a couple key saves."

Two of Staios' best plays to date came in Thursday night's loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the second period and without taking a penalty, he stopped a Brett Connolly breakaway before the Bolts forward had time to fire off a shot.

"If you look at it again, it was totally stick-on-puck," Capuano said. "His timing was right, he was in position and he was able to deflect that puck. That’s why it was a non-call. It was a great play."

He also eliminated a 2-on-1 late in the third.

"As a defenseman, you have to be just as deceptive as a forward and he was able to read that play at the right time," Capuano said. "He denied the pass, but also took away the shot when he laid down to block that shot. He gives everything he’s got back there."
Brian Campbell
Campbell was a key acquisition for Panthers GM Dale Tallon this off season. The defenseman helped the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup in 2010, while Tallon was still with the organization. This past June, Tallon was able to convince the 12-year pro to waive his no-trade clause and join the Cats.

Though the Panthers were held scoreless in both of their last two games, the veteran defenseman has already made a big impact on the Cats blue line, recording a team-leading 7 assists. He also ties Kris Versteeg for the team lead in points (7).

Kris Versteeg
Versteeg is also new to the Panthers organization. After splitting last season with the Maple Leafs and Flyers, he joined the Cats during the free agency period.

Entering his fifth-full NHL season, the winger is already on par to finish the season above his career-high 46 points (21 goals, 25 assists) as his seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in six games tie Campbell for the team lead.

Look for either one or both of these players to play an important role in Panthers game on Saturday night.
The Islanders will complete their two-game road trip Saturday night when they face the Panthers for the second time.

Following Thursday night’s loss, all of the Islanders interviewed were disappointed and frutstrated, indicating it would be motivation for Saturday night's game.

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said, “We didn’t execute structure the way we wanted to. That sloppy play in the neutral zone led to us not being able to establish our forecheck and get any zone time.”

Though he wasn’t satisfied with their play, Capuano said he didn’t have to address the team’s lack of luster. Instead, he left that up to the leadership group.

“I told them that there are controllable circumstances and uncontrollable circumstances,” Capuano said. “The things that we can control are our belief, our attitude, our trust and our work ethic. I think this year, we have a good bunch of veteran guys and leadership and they know exactly what leads to our success and what doesn’t. So I didn’t have to say too much. After the game, they knew exactly what needed to be done.”

Capuano altered the lines throughout the second half of Thursday night’s game, but said they’ll return to normal for Saturday night’s contest. The only change, Blake Comeau will return to the lineup and will play on the left side, with Josh Bailey in the center and Brian Rolston on the right.

“I’m normally not a guy that likes to change (the lines), but I thought at that particular point, we didn’t a little bit of a boost,” Capuano said. “I have a lot of faith in these guys. We’re not going to change any of the lines going into Florida. Everything will be status quo.”

He added, “Hopefully we can come out against Florida and execute a little bit better than we did against Tampa.”
Season Series: The scene for the second of four games shifts from Long Island to South Florida, which historically hasn't been the friendliest of road venues for the Islanders -- they have an 11-19-6 record between Miami Arena and BankAtlantic Center. Home ice wasn't exactly welcoming for them either two Saturdays ago despite the enthusiastic opening-night crowd. The Panthers held the Isles scoreless in a 2-0 win at Nassau Coliseum.

Big story: Both teams have cooled off offensively in the past couple of days. The Isles scored 11 games in winning three games at home, but managed just 17 shots and one goal in Thursday's 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay. The Panthers erupted for seven goals Monday night in Tampa, but come into this game after being blanked in consecutive games by Washington and Buffalo. Florida did almost nothing offensively on Thursday in a 3-0 loss to the Sabres, managing just 22 shots and rarely testing Ryan Miller.

Team Scope
The three home games after the loss to Florida were impressive -- the Isles eked a 2-1 win on Columbus Day against the Wild, blew out a Lightning team that was still trying to relearn its defense and beating the Rangers 4-2 last Saturday. They traveled down to Tampa Bay, however, and saw a team that looked more like the one that made the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Bolts limited the Isles to 17 shots and took the vaunted Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau line out of the game. The 4-1 loss was a classic case of turnabout being fair play.
(Continue Reading)

The Isles were blanked in their home opener by the Panthers, 2-0, as Stephen Weiss and Jason Garrison had goals. Al Montoya made 27 saves.
- Milan Jurcina - Groin (9/27 at CGY) - 5 games missed (Day-to-day)
- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 5 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 5 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Nino Niederreiter - Groin (9/30 at NJ) - 5 games missed (Day-to-day)
Power Play %: 15.0%
Penalty Kill %: 90.9%
Home Record: 3-1-0
Road Record: 0-1-0
Goals For: 12
Goals Against: 10
Power Play %: 28.6%
Penalty Kill %: 81.2%
Home Record: 1-1-0
Road Record: 2-2-0
Goals For: 14
Goals Against: 16

(Answer from 10/20: Mike Bossy. Bossy would score
half of the teams 44 dynasty hat-tricks en route to his franchise leading 39 career tricks.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Evgeni Nabokov is starting, Brian Rolston will be healthy scratched (his wife is giving birth), clearing up space for Matt Martin to move to the third line.

Panthers (Expected) Lineups
Forwards: Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg, Booth-Kopecky-Upshall, Kennedy-Goc-Skille, Matthias-Carter-Bradley

Defensemen: Jovanovski-Gudbranson, Garrison-Campbell, Weaver-Kulikov

Goaltenders: Theodore, Markstrom

Expected Scratches: Dadonov, Ellerby

Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano: After Thursday night's loss: "That was a huge difference in (Thursday night's) game, their net presence versus our net presence."

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