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New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers

The Islanders open the 2011-12 season at Nassau Coliseum at 8 p.m. Saturday

Saturday, 10.8.2011 / 12:00 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers
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Mark Streit
The Swiss defenseman missed all of the 2010-11 season due to a shoulder injury. His absence was felt on the Islanders blue line and top power play unit, but possibly more so in the locker room. On Sept. 21, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow named Streit the 13th captain in team history. While Streit hopes to help the Islanders return to the post season, the 33-year-old is just thrilled to return to game action. Quarterbacking the power play in his first two seasons, Streit is expected to return to that post this season.
Sean Bergenheim
Bergenheim, a former Islanders forward, had a steady 29-point season with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010-11 and then exploded in the team's post-season run. His nine goals and two assists in 16 games put the free agent on many teams' radars this offseason, but when Bergenheim didn't receive a contract from the Lightning, the Finnish-born winger signed a four-year deal with the Panthers.
Tonight, the Islanders open the 2011-12 season at home against the Florida Panthers. Mark Streit returns to the ice, while six players on the Islanders 23-man roster will look to make their Islanders debuts: Evgeni Nabokov, Jay Pandolfo, Marty Reasoner, Brian Rolston, Steve Staios and Ryan Strome.
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Big Story : It's a showdown featuring teams that are hoping to reverse their fortunes this season, as the Islanders and Panthers finished 14th and 15th, respectively, in the Eastern Conference in 2010-11. Florida GM Dale Tallon was awfully busy this summer signing free agents, while the Isles sprinkled in some veterans and also have a healthy Mark Streit back on their blue line.

Team Scope :
Hoping to make a push for the playoffs, Tallon brought in several talented veterans in July to give the Panthers a stronger blend. The GM shared his thoughts on the season opener on Florida's web site. (Continue Reading)
Jeremy Colliton - Groin (9/23 at BOS) - 0 games missed (Out indefinitely)

Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 0 games missed (Out indefinitely)

Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 0 games missed (Out indefinitely)

Trevor Gillies - Groin (9/30 at NJ) - 0 games missed (Day-to-day)

Nino Niederreiter - Groin (9/30 at NJ) - 0 games missed (Day-to-day)
Tonight's matchup is the Islanders' and Panthers' first meeting since March 19, 2011. Frans Nielsen scored the Islanders game-winning goal in the shootout and Rick DiPietro made 29 saves through 64:39 to help the Islanders defeat the Panthers 4-3.

Check out the Islanders depth chart.

It's expected that Evgeni Nabokov, Ryan Strome and Milan Jurcina will be the scratches as they skated this morning with Trevor Gillies (groin), while the rest of the team had meetings.

Panthers Lineups
Forwards: Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg, Booth-Kopecky-Upshall, Bergenheim-Goc-Skille, Matthias-Carter-Bradley

Defensemen: Jovanovski-Gudbranson, Garrison-Campbell, Weaver-Kulikov

Goaltenders: Theodore, Markstrom

Expected Scratches: Dadonov, Ellerby

Islanders Captain Mark Streit: "It’s been a very long time, a long rehab a long summer and a long training camp. We had a great camp and I feel really great about the team. Obviously, just to play the game again and be with the guys in the locker room and have that feeling is unbelievable. I missed it a lot last year. I had to watch a lot of hockey. Now, looking back, it's like the time passed so fast, but it was a long ride. I’m thrilled to get the season going."

Panthers Head Coach Kevin Dineen on Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano: "(Capuano), he’s a Maineite as well. He’s always been very assertive and we’re all really proud of him. As American (Hockey) League coaches, there are guys that you gel with a little bit, you exchange information and I think (Capuano) and I always were ones that kept in touch over the years. We couldn’t be happier with his success last year... He just came in here and said, “We’re going to relax and play hard,” and boy he sure had them going. They’re an assertive team, they like to giddy up on offense and we’re going to have to have our heads on a swivel to make sure that speed is not the deciding factor in the game."




J. Tavares 78 33 37 6 70
K. Okposo 79 22 42 -4 64
F. Nielsen 81 20 32 1 52
B. Nelson 81 26 14 -3 40
N. Leddy 81 5 35 -9 40
A. Lee 80 15 21 -2 36
J. Bailey 81 12 20 -7 32
C. Cizikas 80 8 21 4 29
R. Strome 71 8 20 -9 28
M. Grabovski 58 9 16 3 25
T. Greiss 23 11 4 .925 2.36
J. Halak 18 13 4 .919 2.30
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