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Season opener recap: Panthers 2, Isles 0

The Isles are about to take the ice for practice at the Coliseum, so let's take a quick look back at Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Panthers:

-- Where was the speed? Blame the ice, in part, but as more than one Islander pointed out to me, "It didn't bother them too much." Florida keyed in on Michael Grabner to contain his breakouts, but the rest of the Isles didn't generate enough speed in transition or on the rush to scare the Panthers much.

-- The defense looked rattled. Along with goaltending, this was the Isles' definite weak spot coming into the season, and the Panthers showed why -- getting pucks in deep and getting bodies on the Isles defensemen caused problems in the first period. The Islanders did get their own zone settled down over the final 40 minutes, but from Mark Streit on down, the D got scrambly early.

-- Too much perimeter play. Jack Capuano's mantra has been "pucks and bodies to the net" since camp opened. Aside from Matt Martin, there weren't too many Islanders forwards who charged through the Florida zone with authority. Too many drop passes, too many stops and spins along the boards.

-- About that fourth line... Martin was, I think, the best Islander on the ice -- he tied a team high with five SOG and led the Isles with five hits. If he keeps this up, there's no way he can sit when Nino Niederreiter returns. Marty Reasoner and Jay Pandolfo also had solid games with cycling and forechecking, following Martin's lead.

-- Al was good. Montoya's getting the start may have been a surprise, but he was steady. He did say he wanted the Panthers' first goal back, but other than that, he was as good as he's been since the day he arrived here back in February.

That said, I think Capuano will give Rick DiPietro a chance to start Monday against the Wild. DiPietro's been very smart with his stickhandling and roaming to play the puck this preseason, but the Isles may need his ability to play the puck to keep the Minnesota forwards off the Isles D.

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