The Flyers have been an absolute rollercoaster of a team so far this season. We’ve seen their highs and lows all within the first 28 games this season. The inconsistency has been their Achilles’ Heel, especially against some of the tougher opponents. Nonetheless, they now find themselves on the outside looking in for the ultra-competitive final playoff spot.
Philadelphia will look to get back within a point of that coveted fourth playoff spot as they face off against the Islanders in the fourth of eight meetings this season. Coverage will begin at 7 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with puck drop slated for 7:30 pm. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia or NBCSN. In front of the away crowd, the Flyers are +116 money line underdogs with the over/under sitting at 5.5 goals.
Flyers Snuck Out With a Win
Flyers fans and the entire organization need to thank Oskar Lindblom. Philadelphia looked to be on their way to another win against the Islanders in convincing fashion. Lindblom started the scoring train, and then Giroux and Voracek followed it up with goals of their own.
However, nothing is ever easy for Flyers’ games. They wound up blowing their three-goal cushion in a span of eight total game minutes. Oskar Lindblom, though, got the last word. After being a healthy scratch to regroup, the winger made it known that he got his coach’s point. With just over two minutes left in the game, he put one past Semyon Varlamov securing the game for the orange and black.
Per the Flyers’ Twitter account, there will be no lineup changes for the team. Per head coach Alain Vigneault, Carter Hart will also be back in the net for the orange and black. Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Carsen Twarynski will remain in the Flyers’ lineup in place of Connor Bunnaman, and Andy Andreoff exited the lineup.
Keys to the Game
Okay, this is a bit obvious. However, at the start of the season the narrative was that the Flyers didn’t shoot enough. Now, though, the Flyers are getting their fair share of shots off. Originally swept under the rug, the Flyers’ defensive problems are becoming more and more prevalent by the game. This needs to be the focus tonight against the Isles.
This can be done by simplifying the game. The Flyers need to take a step back and breath; they have to remember the basics. Far too many times they allow opposing teams the easiest zone entries known to man. Philadelphia has to challenge the Isles in the neutral zone. By winning the neutral zone, offense will come naturally. They have shown the ability to score (3.25 goals per game, 10th in NHL). Now, they have to go back to the fundamentals by playing a man defense and win neutral zone battles.
Players to Watch:
Since returning from COVID-19 protocols, Travis Konecny has regrouped well. He recorded three assists in Thursday’s game including the primary helper on Oskar Lindblom‘s game-winner. Since returning from COVID-19, Konecny is averaging a point-per-game with 10 points (2g-8a) in those 10 games. Many of these points have come on the road as well (7).
For his career, he has nine points in 16 games against the Isles. In his last eight against New York, he has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists). He may not seem like he’s been lighting up the score sheet this season, but TK has been a silent assassin. Look for the youngster to be buzzing tonight.
Nick Leddy was a problem for the Flyers Thursday night. Last game, he tallied a point on all three of the Islanders’ goals (three assists). The veteran blueliner now has a goal and 20 assists through 31 games. Leddy is tied with three other players for the third-most helpers in the NHL, but leads all defensemen in the East Division.
Leddy plays his best hockey against Philadelphia as well. His 18 points against them is the most he has against any single team. This season, he has five points in three games against the orange and black.
Let’s also not forget to mention that it’s his 30th birthday. The birthday boy likely wants to give himself a good gift against the team he’s had the most success against in his career.
Flyers drop this one
Look, it’s tough to beat a team four times in a single season- rather four times in a row. I know the Islanders did it to the Flyers last season (not including playoffs), but it’s still tough. Also, mix in the fact that the Islanders have already lost two straight and are facing their third straight loss. For a team of the Islanders’ caliber to lose three in a row, and four in a row to the same team, would be remarkable.
With all this said, I think the Islanders take this one from Philadelphia. I do think that the Flyers look better on the defensive end, though. Expect this one to be a very rare somewhat-low scoring affair, and the Islanders sneak out a 3-2 win.