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Islanders don't have edge against Panthers in Qualifiers, Nelson says

Forward believes 3-0-0 record against Florida doesn't guarantee success in best-of-5 series

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The New York Islanders were 3-0-0 against the Florida Panthers this season, but forward Brock Nelson said that won't matter when they play one another in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

"I don't think you can use that as an advantage or a disadvantage," Nelson told "MSG 150 At Home" on July 3. "I think everybody now is going in with the opportunity and the mindset that they have a chance and they're given a shot If you're the 1 seed through the 12 seed, everybody's got that same belief that they can make a run, especially in a time like this where you go into a best-of-5, anything can happen.

"You get a hot goalie right away, you can kind of run away with that, feed off that. The team that's able to get that and use that to their advantage mentally is going to have quite a big gap in terms of advantages."

The Islanders (35-23-10, .588 points percentage) enter the qualifiers as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and will play the No. 10 seed Panthers (35-26-8, .565) in one of eight best-of-5 series. The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.

Provided health and safety conditions allow and the NHL and NHL Players' Association finalize an agreement on protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, training camps will begin July 13 as the start of Phase 3. 

The qualifiers will begin Aug. 1 in two hub cities -- one for the 12 participating Eastern Conference teams, one for the 12 Western Conference teams -- but locations have not been announced.

Video: FLA@NYI: Nelson uses quick shot for shootout goal

Nelson has spent quarantine at home in Warroad, Minnesota, but is expected to return to New York on Monday to take part in voluntary group skates at the Islanders practice facility as part of Phase 2 of the Return to Play Plan. He scored an NHL career-high 54 points (26 goals, 28 assists) in 68 games and will try to help the Islanders reach the playoffs for the second consecutive season under coach Barry Trotz. Last season, New York swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round before being swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.

This season, New York won 10 consecutive games from Oct. 12 to Nov. 5 and had an Islanders-record 17-game point streak (15-0-2) through Nov. 23, but it was 6-8-5 following the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 25 and 0-3-4 in its final seven games before the NHL paused the season on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

"It will kind of be a feeling out once you get back," Nelson said. "But guys had a little bit of time to kind of get their legs back and hopefully kind of gear up. Obviously, the intensity is going to be higher right away getting ready for the playoffs, so you kind of have to find a way to kick it into gear. You can't have any waits or delay. Best-of-5, anything can happen, so you have to come home ready to go.

"In simplicity, it's just worry about your game and playing at a high level. If it doesn't go your way, right away, you have to let it go and get right back into the saddle. You don't have any time to find that you have to get there in a hurry."

Tweet from @NYIslanders: Brock Nelson joined MSG 150 to preview our matchup vs. the Panthers and share how he���s stayed in shape during the pause. 🏒💪������ Watch the full segment ������ https://t.co/ecuzLlyHNN

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