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Afternoon Delight: Panthers, Islanders not scheduled for prime time



Panthers Islanders

Those who like the Florida Panthers (or, the New York Islanders) and are looking forward to watching some afternoon hockey when the NHL returns, you all are in luck.

On Tuesday, the NHL officially released the start times for the first three games of the Panthers-Islanders best-of-5 Stanley Cup qualifier.

None of the opening three games will be played in the highly-coveted prime time hours with two of coming around breakfast depending on what time zone you’re in.

The first game of the series — which, like all qualifying round games as well as the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs will be held in Toronto — is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start on Aug. 1.

Both Game 2 and 3 of the series are scheduled for noon.

No morning skates those days.

Florida’s lone exhibition game will be against the Tampa Bay Lightning (because of course it is).

The fourth preseason game of the 2019-20 campaign between the Panthers and Lightning is scheduled for July 29. It will also be a noon start.

Coronavirus forces Florida Panthers to shuffle coaching staff

The qualifying series between the Panthers and Islanders is a rematch of the 2016 opening round when the lower-seeded Isles pulled off a six-game upset against the Atlantic Division champions.

Only four Florida players are left off that team and the Islanders lost the MVP of that series (John Tavares) to Toronto so much has changed for both teams.

Since that series in 2016, the Panthers have had three coaches since firing Gerard Gallant.

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The Islanders also got rid of their coach — Jack Capuano, who coincidentally, was an assistant for the Panthers the previous two seasons.

New York is now coached by Barry Trotz, whose Washington Capitals beat Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets on their way to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2018.

The Panthers do not even have the same logo or uniforms they wore during that 2016 series.

It seems a lot longer than four years ago.

“We’re only focused on the ‘now’ factor,’’ Florida coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday when asked about the 2016 series between Florida and New York.

”We feel they did a good job against us all year, early in the season they beat us all three times in close games we thought could have had a different outcome. We learned from them; you have to be patient against them, have to play the right way and have a purpose behind what you do.”



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