Where do the Islanders’ Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock rank among elite defensive duos?

It’s been a week now since the Islanders announced they had signed d-man Adam Pelech to a long-term deal. Pelech, who will be in blue and orange for the next eight seasons, is now being paid like a top-flight defender.

With that transaction, the Isles now have a top duo of he and Ryan Pulock making the kind of salary you’d expect guys in that category to make. Pulock is set to make $5M this upcoming season and will be getting another significant raise next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Now, there’s a reason Pelech and Pulock got paid — they are damn good at their jobs individually. As a pair, they have developed into one of the best in the league. To be in that echelon is no fluke either. Only a handful of teams have one stud blueliner on their team, let alone two. The Islanders are lucky to have such a luxury.

But where do they size up among the elite, elite? Based on the numbers, pretty darn high.

Per Natural Stat Trick, the duo last season ranked 9th in Shot attempt percentage at 53.4%, 7th in Shot attempts against/60 minutes at 48.1%, had the ninth-best goal differential, 12th in goals against per/60 minutes, were number one in Scoring chance differential, High-danger scoring chance differential and Expected goal differential. They also ranked third respectively n High-danger scoring chances against/60 minutes and second in Expected goals against/60 minutes.

Mind you these are all stats based on over 40-plus defensive pairings that skated over 400 minutes together at even strength in the regular season. Still, some of those stats are staggering and prove they are absolute force when they are on the ice.

“[Pelech and Pulock] can contribute offensively and can defend as well as any two guys in the league and have an effect on the overall game,” head coach Barry Trotz said back during the playoffs. “So this is a normal development of two really smart young players and giving the confidence and showing them the ice for them to have a big effect on a game.”

No disrepsect to Trotz, but the offense is the one element truly missing from Pelech and Pulock soldifying their spot as the top tandem. Neither d-man are offensive dynamos ala the Bruins’ Charilie McAvoy or even the duet of Colorado’s Cale Makar-Devon Toews (a former Islander). The two only combined this season for 31 points during the regular season. Pulock in particular really struggled to produce offensively only finding the back of the net twice.

It’s not to say that part of their game can’t take another step this upcoming season. It can most certainly be done, and might have to be with the departure of Nick Leddy, who was the team’s best offensive d-man last year and for a number of seasons. If that happens, Pelech and Pulock will be looked at in a whole new light.

But you always have to factor in the defense-first mentality. That’s the Isles’ bread and butter. And as Pelech noted after getting his deal, defending is priority number one.

“It’s great if I can contribute,” he said…”but at the end of the day, I’m a defensive player and I think it pays dividends to stick within your own game and do what you know makes you successful and the team successful. “I don’t think there’s going to be any reason to force anything with a new contract or anything, I just think it’s just staying within yourself, play your game and do what’s best for the team.”

Pelech and Pulock have done a tremendous job at upping their game over the past few years. They have entered elite status despite some of the parts of their game still needing growth. They rank pretty high now, and who knows, sooner rather than later they might very well be considered the best.

 

 

 

Islanders’ Ryan Pulock finally scoring could open up the floodgates for him down the stretch

It took over three-quarters of this abbreviated season, but Ryan Pulock finally has a goal to his stat line. Pulock’s tally, the game-winner in the Islanders’ OT win on Sunday night against the Rangers, finally got the monkey off his back after he had been snakebitten all year.

With that elusive marker, there’s not just a sense of relief but hopefully some confidence that Pulock will start to hit the net more as the season winds down in the next few weeks.

“Obviously for me, throughout my career I’ve been able to score a little bit,” Pulock said postgame on Sunday. “To go through a little slump like that is tough, and as the games wore on, it got tougher. I knew I just needed to get that one and obviously it came in a big moment. I’m excited about that.”

Pulock had come into this season with big expectations after a very solid postseason and a brand new two-year, $10 million deal in his back pocket. Providing extra offense was one of added pressures of his new contract, that in part because he had registered 29 goals the last three seasons. The Isles had also parted ways with their best offensive d-man Devon Toews dealing him to Colorado in the offseason too, which was only going to put more work on Pulock’s plate.

After the first six games of the season, you could sense a theme that the Winnipeg native was having trouble converting. Pulock had already recorded 11 shots in that time. Those stretches became weeks. Weeks became months. The frustration for the 26-year-old and among the fans reached an even bigger point because outside of scoring, Pulock has been playing the best hockey of his career. But the fact still remained: everyone else on the Islanders’ defense besides Pulock — outside of Thomas Hickey whom played a few games — had scored.

What made everyone scratch their head more was it wasn’t like Pulock wasn’t getting chances. Before Sunday’s winner, Pulock had recorded 90 shots, third-most of any player on the club all season and team-leading in terms of defense. If that doesn’t show he was due, I don’t know what will.

Pulock’s grip on his stick should be a little looser with that first goal in the rear view. It should lead to a few more goals for him before the regular season ends next month. The Islanders could certainly use his scary shot as their power play has struggled again of late, but also knowing the team has only received two goals from a d-man in regulation out of the last 12 games. Those came off the sticks of Sebastian Aho and Andy Greene.

The Islanders are a better team when Pulock is able to score when he’s given opportunities. They’ve been good this season even without that element. But Pulock is finally on the board now. That should be the spark needed for his scoring touch to show out again. And if that’s the case, the Isles will have another advantage at their disposal.

The Isles getting their three-day hiatus might have come at the perfect time. Having played three games in four nights, five in eight days, the team looked a little tired over the weekend against the Rangers. The break should also be crucial for newly acquired Kyle Palmieri, who scored his first as an Islander on Sunday, and Travis Zajac to get more associated with the team and head coach Barry Trotz’s systems.

Both TSN and The Athletic named the Islanders one of their winners of this year’s trade deadline. Hard not to agree as g.m. Lou Lamoriello addressed every area of need and gave up very little doing so.

The one Islander who hasn’t been talked about enough for his strong play

Watch the Islanders’ overtime against the Bruins from Tuesday and you’ll notice something out of the ordinary: d-man Ryan Pulock out on the ice for over two-plus minutes. Usually in the 3-on-3 format, defenders aren’t supposed to be out for very long shifts so they can conserve energy. But there was Pulock, #6 in blue, riding out that stretch in just another example of why he’s played such a intricate role in the team’s success throughout this season.

Pulock hasn’t scored any goals to this point, which has left many dumbfounded because he’s got such a wicked shot. It’s in every other area of his game that has him trending further towards elite status.

“I want to chip in,” he said earlier this week. “But at the same time, if I look at my game and I’m honest with myself, I feel my game is in a really good spot. I’m playing pretty well and contributing to the success the team is having in other ways.”

The Manitoba native’s offensive side has shown out this year — ten assists in 26 games — but it’s the strides in Pulock’s defensive game, playing shutdown minutes with fellow No.1 D Adam Pelech, where he continues to progress. He’s already surpassed his average time on ice in his career playing a steady 22:28 this season. The proof is also how he’s been tasked to defend some of the best the East division has to offer. Even two nights ago, he and Pelech saw a heavy dose of “The Perfection Line” (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak), and while two of them got on the scoresheet on the man-advantage, they were relatively quiet at even strength.

Credit is due to Pulock, who for so long was always perceived as an offensive producer. He’s now a bonafide two-way defensemen and hasn’t even reached his prime yet.

The Isles committed to Pulock this offseason for two more seasons most likely with the aspirations of what they’re seeing from him now. Despite being without a goal on his ledger, that contract was terrific then and looks even better as the Islanders continue to roll.

Hopefully the goals will come for Pulock. He has already thrown 50 shots on goal through 26 games, the most for an Islander defender. It would be a reward for what has been an excellent campaign from him overall.

A lot of the fanfare this year has been around Mathew Barzal dazzling, Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom’s emergence, and the sensational goaltending the Isles have received. But Pulock, he’s just stayed in the background and been lights out this season.

You won’t hear his name in the Norris conversation and that shouldn’t matter. Pulock has found another level to his game.

That needs to be recognized as the Islanders aren’t having the success they do without his presence.

The Isles will welcome back fans to games this evening against New Jersey for the first time in 369 days. While it will only be a little over 1,000 people, they will be health care workers who have put their lives on the line since COVID-19 took over our reality at this time a year ago.

It should be a tremendous scene, and if the video the team released yesterday is any indication of what to expect, it will be an emotional night.

Islanders’ GM Lou Lamoriello has high expectations for Mathew Barzal this season

The Islanders’ season is less than a week old, but that hasn’t kept g.m. Lou Lamoriello from having a few things to say about his club’s start.

Lamoriello did a radio spot with Sirius NHL Radio yesterday after the Isles’ 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins Monday night. It was a very candid and open interview, probably some would say the most open the Islanders general manager has been to date.

One of the main topics discussed was Mathew Barzal and Lou’s expectations for him in this shortened season.

“What we expect from Mat is to do the things that god has given him with his talent,” Lamoriello said.

Barzal is now in his fifth season in the NHL and he’s just agreed to a three-year, $7M deal on January 9th. That contract put him with captain Anders Lee as the highest-paid player on the team. He’s also considered the Islanders’ best player from an offensive standpoint; the 23-year-old has led the team in points three straight seasons.

Lamoriello though is looking for more from his stud center beyond the scoresheet.

“Not worry about scoring, but just worrying about both ends of the ice,” he said. “He has worked at that, been outstanding and made that commitment. “He wants to be an Islander. He said that loud and clear. He’s been great. I have nothing but good things to say about him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone with better edges. He’s certainly an integral part of this team.”

It’s true that Barzal has gotten better in some of those areas, but he still hasn’t reached that echelon where he’s one of the more consistent two-way centers in the sport. That’s expected to change this year. Lou knows it. He knows it.

Barzal even made it a sticking point after signing his new deal that consistency was going to be key for him moving forward.

And it goes hand-and-hand with what the Isles are trying to accomplish: Winning a Stanley Cup.

The Isles’ bread-and-butter under Lamoriello since he arrived in 2018, and furthermore Barry Trotz, has been a defense-first mentality. Barzal plays a key part in that. It’s easy to see why Lamoriello is so keen on him being laser-focused at improving with and without the puck  as opposed to him just leaning more towards offense, which most fans have been clamoring to see for a while now.

Expectations coming into this season were already sky high for Barzal. The fact that Lamoriello came out and said what he likes to see from him was different and enlightening.

You usually don’t hear the general manager talk expectations about their star players, let alone Lou Lamoriello. Obviously though he sees the untapped potential Barzal has.

And he hopes that potential comes out in droves this year not only offensively but defensively.

Lamoriello also had some high praise for the defensive corps he and the coaching staff assembled this year. What he said about the duo of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech really drove home how great they’ve become.

“I never realized what their abilities were. Great human beings, great teammates, he said. “They stay within their limits and playing together they’ve make each other better. They’ve done a great job.”

Lamoriello also was emphatic about Nick Leddy and how he feels he’s playing his best hockey since he took over the organization. He also was quick to point out Noah Dobson and how he thinks he will progress.

“Noah Dobson has outstanding potential. We feel he’s going to get better and better.”

Speaking of Pulock, it seems he and the rest of the guys in the room are more than comfortable continuing to play the underdog role despite two straight postseason appearances and making the Eastern Conference finals this past summer.

“I think we as a group are kind of fine with that underdog mentality and trying to prove people wrong,” he said chatting on NHL Network yesterday. We’ve looked at it the past couple of years and had success that way. We’re gonna keep building that way.”

Pulock also showed off his stitched ear from the shot he took up high on Saturday, all 18 of them. That’s a hockey guy.

 

The Islanders have two Top 100 players, but should there be more?

When the Islanders open their regular season Thursday night, they will have two of the best players in the league taking the ice for them, Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock.

The Athletic NHL released its Top 100 Players tier list for the 2021 season yesterday and it was Barzal and Pulock who made it for the organization. Barzal was placed in the Tier 3 group under the “All-Star” umbrella while Pulock finds himself in the fourth tier for players who are at the “Top of the lineup”.

The newly extended Barzal — he and the Isles agreed to a new three-year deal over the weekend — many on the panel believe he hasn’t reached “franchise player” worthy level just yet.  “Mathew Barzal regarded as highly as he should be by the model, which doesn’t see just how involved he is in transition. The franchise-player tier is a tough sell for now, with the net results including his production being great but not quite elite,” was how he was described at the moment.

The argument about Barzal’s production is valid. Take out his Calder Trophy winning season in 2017-18 where he led the team with 85 points, and Barzal has only tallied 122 points  and 37 goals. Now it’s true, those numbers probably take a hit because of the defense-first mentality employed by head coach Barry Trotz. But Barzal is now being paid as an elite player, so his production needs to reflect that.

This is not lost on him too. He said on Saturday after signing the deal that “consistency” was going to be the most important thing with him being paid $7M a year over the next three seasons

Pulock making the list comes as quite the welcome surprise.

He’s definitely emerged as the Isles’ best and most reliable defenseman outside of his d-partner, Adam Pelech. Pulock’s numbers at both ends of the ice have continued to improve each year, but he hasn’t launched himself towards the upper echelon of d-men in the league.

This season could change that. He was was rewarded with a new two-year, 10M contract back in November and is considered to be on the rise. For right now, he’s earned the title of becoming a dominant player.

So, with two of the Islanders most prominent players listed, the question needs to be asked: should there have been more?

Pelech and forward Brock Nelson deserve some consideration.

You could make the argument that Pelech should have made the list ahead of a guy like Jake Muzzin who was in the final tier as a 4C.

Pelech has evolved into one of the top defensive d-man in the over the last two seasons and remains criminally underrated. The offensive production isn’t on the same level of Pulock, but you’d have a hard time finding a guy whose so instrumental to their team’s success. Last season and the playoffs were perfect examples.

As for Nelson, there’s no question he is the Isles’ second-best forward behind Barzal. His level of play has reached incredible heights under Trotz — 25+ goals and 50 or more points the past two seasons — and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

One other name who could find himself on the list soon is Anthony Beauvillier.

His postseason performance opened up a lot of eyes and now he’s expected to become an elite player this season.

Some might want to pull out there hair, but the cap manipulation Isles g.m. Lou Lamoriello has been able to pull off is sorcery. Having to pay Andy Greene and Matt Martin — both recently re-signed — a combined $2.2M for this year is a nod to his genius.

Yes, Greene’s performance bonuses if he reaches them can have a negative effect on the cap in the summer, but Lou still deserves credit for getting him to sign below what he might have gotten on the open market.

Josh Ho-Sang cleared waivers to no ones surprise. Now it’s on the team whether or not they want him in Bridgeport according to the New York Post’s Mollie Walker. Ho-Sang intends to be there and hopefully the team gives him that chance.

The Coliseum is ready for its final, final go around. A happy and sad image at the same time.

The Islanders and Ryan Pulock both win big with new deal

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The Islanders had one of their two huge off offseason dominos fall today.

The team and d-man Ryan Pulock agreed to a new two-year deal avoiding arbitration that was set to take place later this week. The news was first reported by Sportsnet’s Eliiotte Friedman.

Pulock’s deal will have him making $5M AAV.

“I’m obviously really excited to be back for two more years,” Pulock said on a conference call with reporters. “This team has come a long way and the future is bright.”

This transaction comes a few weeks after RFA Devon Toews was dealt from the team to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for two second-round picks. Now all that remains for g.m. Lou Lamoriello and Co. is to get a deal done with star forward Mathew Barzal, which could hopefully come before the start of the regular season.

But for the team and the 26-year-old Pulock, this contract comes out as a huge victory for both sides.

“From our standpoint, we just wanted to make something work.. really excited that we were able to do that,” Pulock said.

Looking at the Islanders’ point of view, they didn’t have to break the bank for one of their two top-pairing defenseman. Some of that can be contributed to the unknown of the COVID-19 restrictions that teams may still be facing in the very near future.

Still, the value the Isles are getting here is tremendous.

It allows them to keep one of their key core players at a very affordable price, let alone their most important offensive d-man. In addition, the Isles received some extra wiggle room to get their cap situation worked out.

Something to also keep in mind is by the time this contract ends, Pulock will still only be 28 — just entering his prime for a player in the NHL — and the Islanders will have had Johnny Boychuk Nick Leddy, Thomas Hickey and Leo Komarov’s contracts all come off the books. This means the organization will most likely have the opportunity to get Pulock signed to a long-term deal as opposed to his previous deals, both of whom were bridge deals.

That last graf also plays into how Pulock is a big winner — he will get the chance to add even more to his value over the next two seasons, just in time for when the Isles can spend.

And things in a sense have already trended that direction from the player’s part.

Pulock has continued to get better defensively under head coach Barry Trotz and the structure he employs. His offensive production too has seen an uptick each season since he first joined the NHL four years ago. And it easy to tell he was going to be one of Lamoriello’s biggest priorities when the offseason began, and this agreement truly shows how much he meant to the success of the team. The Isles made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years and he played an instrumental role, leading the team in ice-time and tying for the most points (10) by a d-man with the aforementioned Toews.

You could say this is another chance for Pulock to prove himself to be worthy of elite status. He’s not on that level just yet, but has shown flashes of being in that conversation. He betting on himself again — as he’s done previously — could finally bring out that next level in his game.

Last, the deal personifies how much the organization likes Pulock and how much faith they have in him.

The Islanders could have easily let Pulock play out the final year of his previous deal or even traded him for the simple fact they are loaded on the backend and the possible haul they could have received in return. Clearly though, they believe the Dauphin, MB native is one of the pieces to their championship puzzle and he fits the mold of what they want from a number one/two blue liner.

That says a lot and could help in further negotiations down the line.

Getting Pulock re-upped was critical for the the Islanders in more ways than one.

He was one of the bigger priorities to be checked off, and now that it’s done, he and the team can revel in what was a fantastic move for both parties. Most of the time in contract talks between the player and the team, one is usually comes out looking stronger than the other.

But this time, the Islanders and Pulock were both on the winning sides of things.

 

The one element missing from Ryan Pulock being an elite d-man for the Islanders

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have relied on many things to help turn them into one of the top teams in the NHL over the past two seasons. Their defense being one of them.

The Isles’ D is considered one of the best in the game not just from a structure standpoint but a talent standpoint. Even with the loss of Devon Toews just over two weeks ago — he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for two second round picks — the backend for the team still remains relatively deep. Noah Dobson is expected to fill Toews’ role once next season begins.

But, if there’s one thing that’s lacking from the blue line, it’s that there’s no one who can be considered elite. You look at teams who have won or played the Stanley Cup recently, and they’ve all had an superstar defenseman. Tampa Bay has Victor Hedman. Dallas has Miro Heiskanen. St. Louis had Alex Piertrangelo. Boston with Charlie McAvoy. And the Capitals with John Carlson. The Islanders don’t have someone of that echelon.

The closest, or maybe another peg down, is Ryan Pulock.

There’s no question Pulock is a solid, reliable d-man; he’s averaged just over 22 minutes of ice-time the last two years and had totaled 28 and 25 points respectively. In the bubble playoffs Pulock also tied for the most points for a d-man on the team with ten with the now-departed Toews.

Out of those postseason points, only two of them were goals. And there lies what’s keeping the 26-year-old from reaching that next level: Pulock needs to find the back of the net on a more consistent basis.

Pulock’s biggest weapon since he was drafted in 2013 has always been his shot. It’s deadly. Its 100 miles-per-hour. Yet, even being in the NHL for five seasons now, the Dauphin, MB native has still yet to hone it in a way that could turn him into a big-time contributor.

Sure, he’s tallied ten goals in the regular season two of the last three seasons. But for someone with his type of ability, Pulock should be closer to 15 or maybe more tucks a season even for a team like the Isles which sacrifices more offense for defense.

The Islanders could also use the extra production from Pulock too. The offense lacks finishers as currently constituted. Pulock becoming one of those guys especially on defense — with the shot he possesses — would really provides an extra boost in more ways than one. Also, with Toews off to Colorado, the Isles are going to depend on more offense from Pulock. As Sean points out above too, it’s special teams where Pulock must become more effective.

Although they’re most likely going to throw Dobson straight into the fire, and even with how the defense shakes out come training camp, Pulock will still be looked at now as the main source of attack.

Pulock and the Islanders are set for arbitration next week. The expectation is he could be looking at between $5-6M. Those numbers are just below what an elite d-man in today’s NHL makes.

That’s where Pulock currently sits.

He is on the verge on being an elite level defenseman in this league. One thing holding Pulock back is his offense. Making that element a strength will put him in a new light and give the Islanders another dynamic that they could certainly use.

 

New York Islanders: Predicting the 3 big RFA contracts

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have to re-sign their “big 3,” and they need to be re-signed soon. This “big 3” will not be a cheap resign. Each of those three players is crucial to the Islanders’ success now and in the future. The deals will most likely be completed soon. No one has any idea what the negotiation status for all three players currently is because Lou Lamoriello doesn’t let anything slip. But, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine what these deals would look like.

Three potentially big RFA contracts for the New York Islanders:

Mat Barzal

The franchise player, the golden boy, the fastest player in the NHL. Mat Barzal deserves a hefty contract right now due to his recent play. Do I think Barzal could be playing better? Definitely, but he’s only 23 years old, which is scary. I think this deal will be a bridge deal. What do I mean by this? A bridge deal is almost like a “prove that you deserve all our money” deal. So, instead of a 7-8 year deal, I believe it will be a 3-4 year deal. So, when the deal is over, Barzal can cash in on big money. Right now, due to cap concerns, the Isles can’t throw all their money at Barzal. But, Barzal knows this by now and will take a discount to help the team win. Final deal: 4 years, $8 million.

Ryan Pulock

The best defender needs a new contract, and he earned big money. The fact that Pulock isn’t an all-star is absolutely mindblowing. Ryan Pulock deserves at least $5.5 million. But, Pulock will probably get more than that. I think Pulock will get around 5-6 years. No reason to let Pulock possibly leave in 3 years. Isles must sign their best defender for a long time. Final deal: 6 years, $6.5 million.

Devon Toews

The Islanders have a growing star here in Devon Toews, and they need to lock him up for a little while longer. Toews doesn’t deserve big money yet, but he has earned a decent contract. I’m thinking around $3.5-$4 million, and that’s a little generous. The number of years will be around 4. I think it’s a solid bet that Toews’ deal will get done first. Final deal: 4 years, $3.5 million.

New York Islanders: 3 Key Players to Yesterday’s Win

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers yesterday with a score of 4-2 and take a 2-0 lead in the best of 5 series. This is a monumental win for the Islanders teams are 55-1 when leading 2-0 in a best of 5 series. Three key players helped the Islanders put extreme pressure on the Panthers.

Jordan Eberle

If you score two goals in one game, there’s a 95% chance you’re a top 3 star in the game. Jordan Eberle, who was invisible in game 1, showed up in the ladder half of game 2. Eberle’s first goal was an absolute beauty. First, he waited on his forehand and moved the defenseman. This move also moved Sergei Bobvrosky right out of his net, and Eberle being the goal scorer he is, rips it short side to put the Isles up 3-2. Eberle’s second goal was nothing special, just in the right place at the right time. The Islanders need playoff Eberle to shine if they want to make a deep run.

Ryan Pulock

Ryan Pulock possesses the hardest slapshot in the NHL. Let me reiterate, Ryan Pulock possesses the hardest slapshot in the NHL. I’ve seen Pulock injury goalies after he shoots from 50 feet away. Pulock has a powerful slapshot, but he doesn’t have the accuracy to score often. Despite this, Islanders fans beg Pulock to take the slapshot on the powerplay. This time, Pulock listened to the fans, and the shot went five-hole. Other than the goal, Pulock played solid defense the entire game. Never giving up position, and always filling his lanes.

The 4th Line

Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin make up the best 4th line in the league. This line never tries to get too fancy. They chip and chase, hit whenever they can, and keep a good forecheck/neutral zone presence. When the 4th line is playing well, the Islanders normally win. The Islanders have a way of making a two-goal lead seem like a seven-goal lead, and it starts with this line. Amazing forechecking all game, and Matty Martin scored today as well.

Honorable Mention

Tom Kuhnhackl played another great game today. Amazing forechecking, good defensive presence, hard checking, and great awareness. He even had the pass of the game, through the legs into a Matty Martin goal.

Conclusion

The Islanders play game three tomorrow at noon. This could either be the sweep the fans are clamoring for, or, the first win for the Panthers. Head coach Barry Trotz will give his players two options. You can either end the series now or let the Panthers climb back into it.