Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders

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It’s been quite the weekend in Philadelphia sports at the Philadelphia Flyers exploded on the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 7-4 win, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Detroit Pistons, and the Philadelphia Eagles worked over the Buffalo Bills to improve to a 4-4 record. It’s on the Flyers to keep the streak alive as they visit the New York Islanders this in just a little while. If Philadelphia defeats the Islanders tonight, they will match the number of wins the Eagles have in just one week of hockey. Now, that is a strong run for this hockey team!

Heading into Uniondale at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, I think the best move is to start Carter Hart in net and give Brian Elliott a well-deserved rest. Ending the week off strong with Hart in net for an opportunity to earn a win could give new life to the Philadelphia Flyers goaltending unit and team synergy. A fourth win would make the Flyers one of the hottest teams in the NHL. The Columbus Blue Jackets provided a fight for two periods against Philadelphia last night. Tonight, the Flyers are in for an all-out donnybrook against the New York Islanders.

Both teams are riding hot streaks. The New York Islanders have won six games in a row and the Philadelphia Flyers have won three in a row. Nick Leddy had two goals against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. The defenseman is doing great things on the offensive side of the puck. On the Flyers, a player that has been heating up is James van Riemsdyk. He is the sleeping monster that needed to be awakened.

In the last ten games against each other, the New York Islanders have won six. Two of those wins came in overtime. The Islanders aren’t completely healthy as they host the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. Jordan Eberle has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and Leo Komarov has been placed on injured reserve with an illness. For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Flyers have a listed player on the injury report. Scott Laughton has a broken finger and will miss four weeks.

New York Islanders – Skaters

The leading scorer on the New York Islanders is Brock Nelson with nine points. Of those nine points, five are assists and four are goals. Nelson has scored three goals during even-strength hockey and one on the powerplay. The production is the same, heavily favoring more assists during even-strength hockey versus the powerplay. He is scoring 13.8% of the shots he takes.

The best defenseman on the Islanders has been Nick Leddy. He’s coming off a performance where we scored a couple of goals. One of those goals was from a penalty shot. He’s produced three assists this season too. Defensively, on the season, Leddy has a +/- of 5. Leddy is also responsible for twelve blocked shots and six hits.

New York Islanders – Goaltending

Both goaltenders have been doing well for the New York Islanders, but it will be Thomas Greiss who starts tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. In five games started, Greiss has four wins. Overall, Greiss maintained a 93.1% save percentage with a 2.18 goal against average. He’s yet to have a bad start to a game, so don’t expect a big offensive explosion against Greiss like we’ve witnessed most of this week.

Philadelphia Flyers – Skaters

Travis Konecny is playing a bit stronger of a season than Brock Nelson in comparison. Konecny is contributing to the offense in the stat book just about every game. With twelve points, seven of them assists and five of them goals, Konecny remains just as impressive during even-strength hockey as he does on the powerplay. He’s scored on 26.3% of the shots he takes through nine games.

I’ve sided with Robert Hagg most of the season about being the most consistent defenseman, but recently, Matt Niskanen has won me over. With a +/- of 5, Niskanen also has two goals and three assists like Nick Leddy. Every assist from Niskanen has come on the powerplay while his goals are split during the powerplay and even-strength hockey. Hagg has dished the most hits and blocked the most shots on the Philadelphia Flyers. Second to him is none other than Niskanen.

Philadelphia Flyers – Goaltending

Returning as the starting goaltender tonight is Carter Hart. His last two starts are nothing to write home about. They’re worth forgetting. On the season, Hart has two wins and two losses in five games started. In one of those starts, he was pulled early enough for Brian Elliott to get that decision. Hart needs to recover from his 89% save percentage but is just about on par with Elliott with a 2.59 goal against average. Against a tough New York Islanders offense, Hart could bounce back largely with a solid performance between the pipes tonight.

Faceoff Possession

The Philadelphia Flyers have a stiff advantage against the New York Islanders in the faceoff circle. Overall, the Flyers are winning 59.1% of their faceoffs while the Islanders are winning 46.7% at the dot. The top three in the faceoff circle for New York are Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, and Derick Brassard. For Philadelphia, the faceoff stars are Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, and Claude Giroux.

Prediction

When the puck drops for this battle between two NHL franchises riding their hot streaks, I am going to side with the Philadelphia Flyers to battle tough and win out the week. My prediction for a final score is 3-2. Carter Hart will bounce back after two rough starts. While the New York Islanders are superior in team defense, I believe that the offense will shine brighter tonight. The Flyers shot totals are aplenty. It’s not quantity over quality either. Thomas Greiss may face his biggest test in his start tonight.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00p, live from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The money line favors the New York Islanders at -120 with an over/under set at 5.5.

Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

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