Tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Islanders at home. The Islanders are 1-0 in the preseason while the Flyers play their first contest.
Flyers hockey returns to the Wells Fargo Center tonight on NBC Sports Philadelphia. They’ll put their rookies and prospects to the test against the New York Islanders.
The Islanders finished fourth in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division a season ago but forced the eventual 2021 Stanley Cup champions to a game seven in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Last season, the Flyers were 3-1-4 against the Islanders. Every time these two franchises go head-to-head, it ends in a photo finish. In a season where teams faced each other eight times, they became privy to the gameplan. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Islanders did just enough to earn the necessary two points in the standings.
Tonight, there are no playoff implications at stake. The outcome won’t affect the regular season in the slightest. Instead, the players involved are auditioning for their opportunity in the NHL.
In their only competition against another franchise this offseason, the Flyers split a weekend schedule against the New York Rangers during rookie camp. Philadelphia defeated the Rangers, 6-3, before losing the rematch, 2-3. Wade Allison won a fight on the road to the Flyers victory but suffered an injury in the loss. The Islanders defeated the Rangers, 4-0, in their preseason opener.
Remember Erik Gustafsson? He’s currently on a professional tryout with the New York Islanders. After divulging into the Islanders training camp, he’s facing competition in Robin Salo and Thomas Hickey.
Salo is a clean skating, physical defenseman. The second-round pick from 2017 played with poise and had an impressive vision when reading the forecheck. He’ll continue his push for a spot on the Islanders roster. Defensively, he is more sound than Gustafsson but won’t produce as much from the blue-line.
Philadelphia Flyers fans know about Gustafsson, a liability on defense but a powerplay specialist altogether.
On offense, the Islanders’ fourth-line is a go. The trio of Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Ross Johnston make for a sizable, physical line who get under the skin of their opponents. All three of them scored a goal in their first preseason game. Usually, Matt Martin would be in place of Johnston on the fourth line. Martin likely will not be ready for the Islanders’ opening night.
An Eye on Philadelphia
Carter Hart, looking to begin a recovery season, is expected to play two periods tonight versus the New York Islanders. He finished with a 2-1-2 record against the Islanders in 2020-2021, falling short in a shootout twice. Samuel Ersson will play one period.
Tonight, we’re focusing on Derick Brassard. He’s battling for a role within the middle six in 2021-2022. Brassard was a playmaker on Sunday, setting up Ivan Provorov with a quick, small-angle snipe. He’s leaving no doubts as to why Chuck Fletcher acquired him. Reunited with Cam Atkinson, Alain Vigneault can rely on Brassard to make timely plays.
Provorov and Ryan Ellis have been electric through training camp. They’ll play a key role in bookending the Islanders’ fourth line. Jackson van de Leest and Logan Day will rotate on the third pair, relieving Nick Seeler and Yegor Zamula. Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen will not play tonight, holding off until Thursday.
It’s preseason hockey. The result doesn’t matter, but the effort does. In terms of the final score, I don’t care to predict a preseason game. But, I’ll predict certain events:
- Tyson Foerster scores a powerplay goal.
- Sean Couturier wins the majority of his faceoffs.
- Derick Brassard notches a powerplay assist.
- Carter Hart looks sharp.
- Yegor Zamula anchors the third pair.
Overall, we want both teams to finish healthy. They’ll meet again in the preseason on October 5th in Long Island.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre