Once again, the Philadelphia Flyers are the underdog on paper.
Alain Vigneault wants a better look at the players on the brink of landing the thirteenth forward and seventh defenseman roles. Tonight, the spotlight is on Connor Bunnaman, Jackson Cates, Adam Clendening, and Nick Seeler.
The New York Islanders designed a lineup closely resembling their opening night. Anders Lee will play against the Flyers bottom six, second pair, Martin Jones, and prospects. This tilt is not one designed in favor of Philadelphia.
Thus far, the Flyers have avenged their every loss of the 2021-2022 preseason. Could Philadelphia upset the Islanders starters tonight? It’s unlikely, but anything can happen. Here’s how it all unfolded:
The starting forwards for the Philadelphia Flyers were Connor Bunnaman, Nate Thompson, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Alain Vigneault expressed Bunnaman being on the fringe of taking the thirteenth forward role. Behind the forwards were Cam York and Justin Braun.
Early on, the Flyers faced their first test. Aube-Kubel was booked for a high sticking penalty, turning into a powerplay goal for the New York Islanders. Anthony Beauvillier, who scored the game-winner earlier in the preseason, continued his scoring streak versus Philadelphia in 2021-2022. The Flyers had a chance to answer on their powerplay but didn’t.
Anders Lee is in the lineup, and it took less than twenty minutes for him to make his presence known. Soon after Martin Jones made a clutch save on Lee, he tried one more time at the crease. On the second effort, Lee increased the Islanders’ lead to two. Jones surrendered a goal in the opening two minutes and the final one. Both goals came from extraordinary top-six forwards.
Neither side was able to separate from one another in the second period. The New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers played a physical second period, a slow burn to a tense finish.
The Flyers led in shots on goal, but the Islanders led on the scoreboard. It’s the opposite issue Philadelphia had in 2020-2021. Usually, the point of Alain Vigneault’s offense is to take the high percentage shot. Nate Thompson had the first good scoring chance for the Flyers in the second. With that said, it didn’t seem like Cory Schneider had to work too hard.
Martin Jones was magnificent in the second period. With that help, the Flyers were able to kill a slashing penalty committed by Cam York. Then, Anders Lee served a minor penalty for tripping. Unfortunately, Philadelphia couldn’t spark their powerplay, unable to cut into the deficit.
Incredible goaltending was on display in the final frame of regulation. Cory Schneider was playing to protect his shutout bid. Martin Jones did a great job recovering from the first period until he was left to dry by the penalty kill for the last two minutes of the game.
Gerry Mayhew remained disruptive. The former Minnesota Wild forward routinely kept pucks deep into the Philadelphia Flyers offensive zone.
Noah Dobson had a skating lane directly to Jones but couldn’t score. Schneider returned the favor, denying German Rubtsov of an open net. The Flyers tested Schneider the most in the third period. Even with the intensity turned up, Philadelphia couldn’t score.
With two minutes remaining, Nicolas Aube-Kubel went to the penalty box for tripping. Unfortunately, Aube-Kubel commits untimely penalties. For the next 120 seconds, Jones was on the receiving end of an Islanders onslaught. Philadelphia’s penalty kill didn’t help. Before Josh Bailey scored, it seemed as if Jones was killing the penalty based on his goaltending alone.
The scoreboard doesn’t reflect it, but Jones was better than the 0-3 final.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Washington Capitals to close the 2021-2022 preseason. They’ll finish on Friday at 7pm, streaming on the NHL Network.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre