The No. 7 seed New York Islanders (35-23-10, .588 points percentage) will face off against the No. 10 seed Panthers (35-26-8, .565) in the qualifiers in Eastern Conference play.
The Islanders previously played the Florida Panthers this season and won all three games. Despite their minor streak of victories, forward Brock Nelson doesn’t believe they have an advantage over their seeded opponent.
The two teams will face off in a best-of-five series, as the winner will qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL draft.
Nelson remains motivated but humble, entering the qualifying rounds with a level head
“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.”
With the NHL expected to return to play in mid-July, the projected start date of the elimination rounds could be weeks if not months away. Just getting practice underway would be a significant step forward for the Islanders and every other NHL squad. The additional time to get back into playing form is welcomed, which Nelson stated in his interview.
“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.