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  • Event: (805) PANTHERS at (806) ISLANDERS
    Sport/League: NHL
    Date/Time: August 1, 2020 1PM EDT
    Play: 3% – (806) ISLANDERS -110 to win the series
    Play Rating: 3%
    Result: Pending

    PLAY: New York Islanders -110 (play good to -140)
    3% play rating

    The second week of March, just when college basketball was readying for conference championship tournaments, the world went dark. The National Basketball Association had one of their players test positive for Covet-19 and it was the beginning to the end of North American Sports. The end being a stoppage of play and fan participation in basketball, hockey and professional baseball's Spring Training. +

    Baseball is back in action, the Association regular season begins in two days and Lord Stanley is hosting his tournament like it has never been played before. 
     
    You have heard yourself say it. Maybe not out loud whether it be a whisper or a vibrant lung-load scream but we have all said "F" that bitch Rona, let's play ball. Saturday the NHL won't be playing ball but they will be skating, checking and shooting the puck in an untraditional postseason format. 
     
    There isn't a corner of a county or a state in the lower-48 that is in Phase 4 of a locals reopening but the National Hockey League will officially enter Phase 4 and that means that it is time to play for Lord Stanley's Cup. 
     
    NHL's return-to-play is everything but usual. The playoff format begins with a 24-team tournament and two months later will crown one of the two-dozen NHL champs. 
     
    In quick order this 2020 Stanley Cup tournament will have 12 teams from each conference taking part in a qualifying round and doing so in venues without fans. The Eastern Conference will be here in Toronto and the West will be playing in Alberta. 
     
    The top four teams in each conference are in the round of 16, and seeds 5 through 12 will square off to see who will take the next step toward holding, hugging, raising, drinking from and kissing The Stanley Cup. 
     
    My first analysis of my four Saturday contests comes to us not far from my humble abode, here in Toronto. 
     
    The best team in the league before Rona starting spitting in every direction were the New York Islanders. If they weren't the best they certainly were the hottest.  Long before winter was coming to a rest the Islanders had displayed their grit with a record setting 17-game point streak prior to Thanksgiving. 
     
    The Isles were not just modeled after their defensive minded Barry Trotz they were better, or good enough offensively to win. When New York GM Lou Lamoriello pulled the trade-trigger before the trade deadline and snagged the best available center, this being Jean-Gabriel Pageau the rest of the league took a large gasp of air. 
     
    It hasn't been perfect since the Isle's obtained Pageau but it has been damn close. 
     
    The Panthers are an extremely capable bunch. As soon as Quenneville arrived you didn't have to be close to the team's facilities and one could still feel that... well... feeling. . Like everything in life change is inevitable. When the Panthers as a whole bought into and adjusted to the life and ways of Quenneville they were postseason worthy. 
     
    Still, New York is better with sharp skates on their player personnel. The best first line belongs to New York, And defensively there is no question that the Isles hold the edge. As much as Coach Q might argue with me the Isles hold every game day edge in all parts save the all important depth at forward.  
     
    The combination of Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss in net make the Isles my favorite to win it all. Don't tell anyone, however, because I am tried and true a Maple Leaf body, soul and mind.  
     
    And feel free to tweet me crazy when I say that the fact New York plays their home games in two different arenas they trump Florida before the puck drops as the best home and road team in this matchup. 
     
    Unless the Panthers can exceed their defensive pay grade and stick up the Islanders and force the games to be played at tempo with 50 shots on goal by each team New York's defense trumps the offense of Florida. Don't be surprised if New York wins this best-of-five in a sweep.  
     
    The price in this Eastern Conference series is an absolute steal and I am all in on the Islanders over Florida and more. The more we will get to at a later date.
     
    NEW YORK ISLANDERS -110 to defeat the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference qualifier
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