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Final preseason game of season tonight

by Adam Schwartz /
The NHL's preseason finally concludes Monday when the New York Islanders visit the Florida Panthers at 7:30 p.m.

The Islanders have a 4-2 preseason record, with wins against the Florida, the New Jersey Devils and two against the Boston Bruins, and losses to the Devils and Flyers.

The Panthers are 2-2-2, with wins against the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.

Here's what to watch:

* After winning their first two preseason games, the Panthers have lost four in a row, but two of those losses were shootout defeats against the Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. The Panthers, who had 9 overtime losses last season, have missed the playoffs seven straight seasons, and haven't won a playoff game since 1997.

* Florida prospect Shawn Matthias, acquired by the Panthers from the Red Wings in 2007 in exchange for forward Todd Bertuzzi, has a goal and an assist in Florida's six preseason games. Matthias, selected No. 47 in the 2006 Entry Draft, had 32 goals and 79 points in 53 games last season with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League.

* Panthers rookie hopeful Janis Sprukts, drafted in the eighth round (No. 234) in the 2000 Entry Draft, has a goal and 2 assists in Florida's six preseason games. Sprukts, who played in Finland last season, had 2 assists and 3 points in 13 games with the Panthers in 2006-07.

* Despite finishing No. 11 in the Eastern Conference last season, the Panthers had the sixth-best power play in the League, with a 19.2-percent success rate. Conversely, there were just 11 teams that scored fewer 5-on-5 goals than Florida's 136 last season.

* Olli Jokinen, who had been with the Panthers for seven seasons before being traded to the Phoenix Coyotes this summer, led Florida in points for the last five seasons. The Panthers are looking for David Booth, Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton – all younger than 26 – to pick up the offensive slack.

* Islanders center Mike Comrie, who played in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final with the Ottawa Senators, led the Islanders with 49 points in 76 games last season, but had a team-worst minus-21 rating.

* The Islanders, who allowed more goals than only five teams in the Eastern Conference with 240, scored the fewest in the League, with 189. The Islanders have missed the playoffs twice in the last three seasons and have not won a playoff round since 1993.

* Islanders captain Bill Guerin, who has scored at least 20 goals in eight of his last nine seasons, led the club with 227 shots last season. Guerin, who has played with seven teams in his career, has been a minus player in just three of his 16 seasons in the League.

* Islanders center Doug Weight, who was signed as a free agent this summer, was Guerin's teammate on the 1996 United States team that won the World Cup of Hockey. Weight, 37, had just 25 points last season, the lowest total of his 17-season career.
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