If the Philadelphia Flyers want to keep playoff dreams alive, they need to activate a streak tonight, starting against the New York Islanders.
Until the Philadelphia Flyers are officially mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, they have a chance.
The Boston Bruins dealt a heavy blow on Tuesday to the Flyers quality surge with a 4-2 victory, but Philadelphia didn’t seem out of place. During that back-to-back series, the Bruins suffered their first loss to the Flyers, showing Philadelphia is not going down without a fight. They’ll have to scrap to create space from the sixth spot in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division rankings. Today, the Flyers remain five points behind Boston and rank behind the New York Rangers due to tiebreakers.
The more things change…
A lot has changed since Philadelphia’s shootout loss to the New York Islanders. The Islanders made a blockbuster trade for Pavel Zacha and Kyle Palmieri, formerly of the New Jersey Devils. Those two are familiar with the Flyers this season.
Defensively, Philadelphia must play their best. The Islanders have only become more dangerous at the forward position. Zajac has logged quality performances against the Flyers while notching three points (2G, 1A.) Palmieri has been slightly quieter against Philadelphia, still scoring a goal while on the Devils. These additions help the Islanders in this matchup.
The Flyers must win in regulation to keep their playoff hopes alive. As the saying goes, “any man with two hands has a fighting chance.”
New York Islanders – Forward Spotlight
Currently, the Islanders are on a three-game winning streak. Two of those victories have come convincingly against the Washington Capitals. Most recently, the Islanders shut out the Capitals, 1-0.
Brock Nelson scored the game-winning goal in the shut-out victory. His score didn’t take place until thirteen minutes elapsed in the third period. Against a lethal offense, the Islanders’ defense remained incredible in front of Semyon Varlamov. A lot of the credit should rightfully fall on the forechecking from the forwards.
Jordan Eberle sparked the Islanders’ offense in the Capitals’ defensive zone. Thus far, a lot of the credit towards that win lives within the Islanders’ top six. Zajac and Palmieri will lift the production of the bottom six, beginning on the third line. Look for transition offense to explode from players such as Anthony Beauvilier, Josh Bailey, and Oliver Wahlstrom. Philadelphia’s second defensive pair must play stingy.
Philippe Myers and Travis Sanheim were not a bad tandem in the shootout loss. Unfortunately, the puck didn’t bounce the Flyers way in the final score.
Tonight, Philadelphia must be opportunistic on the powerplay while disciplined.
New York Islanders – Defensemen Spotlight
Nothing changed for the Islanders defensively. Their personnel remains the same. Andy Greene may receive an increase in line chemistry when on the ice with Zajac and Palmieri. Those three were former teammates once upon a time in New Jersey.
Noah Dobson and Greene were solid together in the win versus Washington. Greene blocked four shots, which has proven effective against the Flyers for the last month. Dobson’s work helped the Islanders stay in the offensive zone.
Versus Philadelphia, Ryan Pulock remained vigilant on defense. He also secured an assist on Nelson’s lone goal against the Capitals. Lately, the top pair for the Islanders has changed the course of games. Following the trade, Pulock remains on the second powerplay team for the Islanders. His effort could continue to trend positively against the Flyers tonight.
Philadelphia’s forwards strike hot late in games, which is frustrating against playoff opponents. Over the last three games, many pucks have deflected off the post when beating goaltenders.
Expect veteran help in scoring chances, especially from Claude Giroux.
New York Islanders – Goaltender Spotlight
Varlamov is buzzing after a perfect performance. The Islanders may break their trend of starting Ilya Sorokin and keep Varlamov between the pipes.
Carter Hart could see a consecutive start tonight. It would be his first streak of starts since he returned to the team after being a healthy scratch in place of Brian Elliott at the end of March. Kicking off April, Hart provided a quality start for the Flyers, picking up a point by forcing overtime.
Flyers vs Islanders Prediction
Every game adds more pressure to Philadelphia, with seventeen remaining. If the Flyers have a dash of hope to keep their playoff dream alive, they must activate a streak tonight. They’re trending in the right direction, despite recent losses. As the Islanders become increasingly dangerous on offense, Philadelphia could be overmatched. They have a chance, however.
Flyers 3, Islanders 2
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre