Game Three Preview
Everything is wiped back to zero. The series may as well be the best of five. After a game two victory, it would be easy to say the Philadelphia Flyers have the momentum. Unfortunately, that is not true. Neither team has the series momentum, which makes game three as vital as two for the Flyers.
After four games, the Philadelphia Flyers found the cracks in the armor of the New York Islanders. More importantly, the Flyers may have found a few new angles to take on Barry Trotz’s system. Philadelphia cannot rest on their laurels as they did in the second and third period of game two. No amount of goals is ever enough against this resilient Islanders team. That proven twice in 2019-2020.
Dating back to January 25th, 2020, through March 10th, 2020, the New York Islanders suffered a seven-game losing streak. Most of those games were home games for the Islanders. Before that, following New York’s third victory against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Islanders buckled a four-game losing streak. Inside the bubble, Alain Vigneault ought to be studying those games that New York struggled in. The teams that defeated the Islanders during those two losing streaks were all teams Philadelphia was able to conquer.
Game Three Storyline
This one is considered a swing game. Whoever wins game three is in an ideal position to dictate the later stages of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Both teams showed resiliency in their rematch. While the New York Islanders never gave up and tied the game after being down by three goals, the Philadelphia Flyers never rolled over to die. They kept trying what works, and it eventually paid off in overtime.
Alain Vigneault decided to replace Scott Laughton with James van Riemsdyk in game two. Laughton has been struggling as of late, but the consensus lingered around Nate Thompson or Derek Grant being replaced for van Riemsdyk. It seems that Laughton was a healthy scratch due to not contributing a point in the last seven games. Perhaps Vigneault compared how the two performed in the regular season and decided van Riemsdyk was the better option. After yesterday’s result, van Riemsdyk may get the nod over Laughton again.
In two Eastern Conference Semifinal games, Carter Hart has surrendered six goals. The Philadelphia Flyers play their second in a back-to-back tonight. Brian Elliott has yet to make a start since the round-robin. The question becomes if tonight is the right time to start Elliott and rest Hart. It may be unpopular but allows Hart to be fresh for Saturday at noon.
Despite the win in game two, the top line of the Philadelphia Flyers defense struggled. Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen finished minus-one and with two or more giveaways. The New York Islanders kept themselves alive in game two because they were able to navigate takeaways into goals. That is what happened during Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s game-tying score. When glancing at the statistical breakdown of game two, the Islanders were well within their rights to steal that game.
Usually, the Philadelphia Flyers are the team that wins their head-to-head faceoff battles. In game two, the New York Islanders won that battle 53% of the time. While Kevin Hayes contributed to the scoreboard, he lost the majority of his draws. The Flyers are going to need their top-six forwards to continue to push the pace. This time around, Philadelphia needs to keep their energy for all three periods.
Similar to game two, tonight is another must-win for the Philadelphia Flyers. I was proven wrong with my prediction when I chose the New York Islanders. Alain Vigneault made the correct adjustments and furthered his recognition as to why he is a Jack Adams Award Finalist. Barry Trotz will be sure to make adjustments, but the Flyers need to come out as hot as they did in game two to bully Semyon Varlamov again. Tonight, I believe Philadelphia wins and leads the series, 2-1.
Eric is a University of Delaware graduate with a degree in English. While in school, he began writing for different publications such as The Highlight Network, Amps and Greenscreens, and he did color commentary for the University of Delaware Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams throughout the 2013 season as an alumni. Prior to being featured with Philly Sports Network, he began a pro-wrestling podcast with a childhood friend called the Totally Over Podcast. As an avid sports die-hard for all things Philadelphia, Eric is also a proud supporter of West Virginia University.