The Flyers enter tonights game against the Islanders in a much win situation. Coming off an ugly 5-1 home loss at the expense of the Penguins Tuesday, the Flyers need to rebound quickly against the Islanders.
Tuesday’s loss was marked by a poor and lifeless 2nd period against the Penguins. During the 2nd period, the Flyers gave up 4 goals. Two were by the Penguins 4th line and two came on the power-play.
However, with Tuesday’s loss, the Flyers are now in a win or go home situation against the Islanders tonight. With the Flyers fighting back towards a playoff spot, tonight’s result holds great power on where the rest of the season goes.
With a win tonight, the Flyers could be within 2 points of a playoff spot. If they lose however, the Flyers will be 6 points out and facing a mountain too tough to climb.
The loss Tuesday to the Penguins, a team ahead of them in the standings, put them in this win or go home situation against the Islanders. However, its not the Penguins the Flyers are chasing, it’s the Carolina Hurricanes. A loss tonight against the Islanders and a win by the Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, would almost close the door on the Flyers playoff hopes.
In a shocking and surprising move, the Flyers recalled forward Tyrell Goulbourne from the Phantoms yesterday. Goulbourne was drafted by the Flyers in the 3rd round, 72nd overall, in the 2013 NBA draft.
His stats don’t jump off the page. But, it is what he does off the puck that has gotten him noticed. Goulbourne is an excellent penalty killer, a hard-nosed force that drives hard to the net, and draws penalties on the regular. Something that has caught the eye of his head coach in Lehigh Valley, Scott Gordon.
“He’s shown a concerted effort to get to the net, to tie up defensemen at the net front and battle and compete.” Gordon said. “He changed his stick and got a better flex stick to get his shots off quicker and now he handles the puck better. You see him more consistently his skating ability. He’s probably one of the fastest, and definitely a powerful skater. He gets to more hits now consistently. He’s been getting better every game at killing penalties, which is valuable.”
However, Goulbourne struggled early on as a pro. In his first season with the Phantoms, he had a great start, scoring 6 goals in his first 20. But, he only scored 1 goal over the last 53 games. His struggling play continued to start his next season and was one of the reasons he was sent to Reading. Now, in his 3rd season as a pro, Goulbourne has found has way.
This move however is foreshadowed by many un-answered questions to why him. One, there is no injuries as everybody practiced yesterday. Two, why not more favorable prospects in Oskar Lindblom or Mike Vecchione?
One thing is for sure. The move is a clear wake-up call to some struggling veterans on this team. He will be in the lineup for one of Weise or Lehtera.
Elliott or Neuvirth
Starting his 14th straight Tuesday, the wear and tear of starting 14 straight finally hit Elliott. After a good 1st period, Elliott fell apart in the 2nd period giving up 4 goals. He was replaced by Michal Neuvirth to start the 3rd period.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing on a night like tonight. You want to be at your best, I wasn’t,” Elliott said post-game, “We can’t have off nights like this. It didn’t seem like we had it tonight for whatever reason.”
With Neuvirth playing the 3rd period, it was his first action since Nov. 28. Neuvirth has been on IR with a lower-body injury. During his absense, Elliott has started and played in every game since Nov. 28.
Elliott has started the 2 previous games this season vs the Islanders. However, he hasn’t faired well in them. He gave up 4 goals in Brooklyn and 5 goals in Philadelphia. Not a good stat when you are trying to win a game. But, both games went to overtime and the Flyers got points in both.
That is why I think Michal Neuvirth will start tonight vs the Islanders. Neuvirth has a 7-2-1 career record with a .933 % & a 1.76 GAA against the Islanders. With Neuvirth playing the 3rd period against the Penguins, he got valuable game action without it hurting the Flyers. It is always hard to start a goalie fresh off an injury. But, Neuvirth got game action without effecting the result of a game.
However, we will not know till game-time to who will start in net. Due to the snowstorm, Coach Dave Hakstol cancelled pre-game skate.
Flyers Lineup 1/4 vs Islanders (Projected)
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl – Valtteri Filppula – Jake Voracek
Jordan Weal – Nolan Patrick – Wayne Simmonds
Tyrell Goulbourne – Scott Laughton – Dale Weise
Ivan Provorov – Shayne Gostisbehere
Andrew MacDonald – Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning – Radko Gudas
Brian Elliott / Michal Neuvirth
Game 40 – New York Islanders, Philadelphia PA
7:00 pm NBC Sports Philadelphia
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola