How Do Opening Round NHL Playoff Qualifying Series Work?
NHL action resumes with three days of exhibition games (July 28-30) prior to the playoffs. A qualifying round (August 1-9) follows and those series will determine who advances the Stanley Cup quarterfinals. The top four teams in each conference received a BYE into the quarterfinals. Those eight teams are playing two round robin series to establish the top four second round seeds. Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia were the top four teams in the East.
The remaining 16 teams are playing eight best-of-five qualifying series. Winners advance to the quarterfinal round as the bottom four seeds in each conference. Toronto is the hub city for the first three Eastern Conference playoffs rounds and all games will be played at Scotiabank Arena. Conference and Stanley Cup Finals will be played in Edmonton. Based on regular season win percentages, New York is the No. 7 seed in the East and Florida is the No. 10 seed.
Florida vs. New York Qualifying Series Schedule
Game 1 - Saturday, Aug 1: Florida @ New York 4:00 PM ET
Game 2 - Tuesday, Aug 4: Florida @ New York 12:00 PM ET
Game 3 - Wednesday, Aug 5: New York @ Florida 12:00 PM ET
Game 4 - Friday, Aug 7: New York @ Florida Time TBD *
Game 5 - Sunday, Aug 9: Florida @ New York Time TBD *
* If Necessary
New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers Series Preview
Florida was fighting for an Eastern Conference playoff berth as they were three points out of the race when the regular season was cancelled. The Panthers (35-26-8) finished 11th overall in the East, with 78 points, and fourth in the Atlantic Division standings. The Panthers .565 win percent was a tick better than the Rangers .564 mark which earned Florida the No. 10 seed. This is a rematch of Florida’s last playoff appearance when they lost 4-2 to the Islanders in 2016.
One point out of playoff position, prior to the pause, New York finished ninth overall in the East with 80 points. The Islanders (35-23-10) finished fifth in the Metropolitan Division standings - one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes. Owning a .588 win percentage, which was slightly better than the .579 mark posted by Columbus and Toronto, New York moved up and earned the No. 7 seed in the East. The Islanders are in the NHL playoffs for a second straight season.
New York swept Florida 3-0 during the regular season series. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey scored second period goals, and Brock Nelson had the shootout winner, as the Islanders won the first meeting 3-2 at home in October. Mathew Barzal and Scott Mayfield both scored and New York won the second game 2-1 at home in November. Anders Lee scored into an empty net, and Jordan Eberle had two assists, as the Islanders won the third match 3-1 on the road in December.
Strong out of the starting gate, with a 16-3-1 record, New York closed with a 2-7-4 run down the stretch. Except for a six-game winning streak in January - Florida was inconsistent throughout the season. The Panthers posted a 5-6-2 record prior to the pause. The Islanders were 23rd with 192 goals scored on offense and tied for sixth with 193 goals allowed on defense. The Panthers were seventh with 231 goals scored and 28th with 228 goals allowed. New York is my series pick.
Series Pick: New York Islanders -120
Panthers vs. Islanders Game 1 Betting Odds
Subject to change, prior to the series start on August 1, FanDuel has posted early odds on Game 1. The game total is set at 5.5 goals and New York is the moneyline and puck line favorite. The Islanders defense versus the Panthers offense is a key battle in this series. Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov both played well against Florida during the regular season but the Islanders haven’t named the starter. New York has a solid shot at winning with either goaltender.
Sergei Bobrovsky has recovered from a late season upper body injury and will start in goal for Florida. Bobrovsky was sharp, stopping 61 of 65 shots, but took the loss in two regular season games versus the Islanders. Prior to signing a $70M deal with the Panthers, Bobrovsky was 1-3 against New York during the 2018-19 season with Columbus. Both teams are getting a fresh start and this should be a close contest. Bet on New York with the Game 1 moneyline.
Game 1 Pick: New York Islanders -120
Futures Betting Odds – Series Correct Score After 3 Games
New York enters this series with solid defense and added Jean Gabriel Pageau to bolster their third line at the trade deadline in February. Florida added depth by acquiring Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark from Carolina but gave up Vincent Trocheck who had more points than Haula and Wallmark combined. Their current roster, plus recent playoff experience, gives New York a slight edge over Florida. Bet on the Islanders having a 2-1 series lead after three games.
Series Score after 3 Games: 2-1 New York +135