PREVIEW: FLYERS @ ISLANDERS
Needing a win to get back to the .500 mark on the season, the Philadelphia Flyers (8-9-2) are in Uniondale, NY, to take on the much-improved New York Islanders (14-6-0). Game time is 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised locally on The Comcast Network Philadelphia.
This is the first of four games between the Metropolitan Division clubs this season.
The teams will rematch in a 1 p.m. matinee on Long Island on January 19. The scene shifts to Philadelphia on February 5 and April 7.
The Flyers have dominated the Islanders for much of the last decade but the current Isles club presents a much greater challenge than most of its predecessors of recent vintage. Coming into tonight, the Flyers are 30-3-3 in their last 36 games against the Islanders. That includes a 15-2-1 mark on the road over the last 18 games at the Nassau County Coliseum.
After tonight, the Flyers travel to Motown to play the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. The Islanders host the Washington Capitals on Wednesday in the front end of a home-and-home. Flyers outlook
The Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 home win over Columbus on Saturday night. The club got goals from Brayden Schenn, Mark Streit, Wayne Simmonds (power play) and Braydon Coburn. Jakub Voracek notched a pair of assists for his 10th multi-point game of the season. Steve Mason made several key momentum saves — twice followed shortly thereafter by Philadelphia goals — among his 20 saves.
For the first time in a span of five games, the Flyers scored first in the Columbus game. They had not played with a lead in any of the four regulation losses the preceded this match. Overall, the Flyers are 5-0-1 when scoring first, and 3-9-1 when allowing first goal.
Apart from the much-needed win on Saturday, there were encouraging signs the team can build from in games to come. The breakouts were better. So was the penalty killing, although the Flyers did yield one Blue Jackets power play goal (the ninth Philly has given up in the last five games).
Flyers head coach Craig Berube dressed seven defensemen for Saturday’s game, with Michael Del Zotto returning to the lineup after missing one game with a lower-body injury suffered in Wednesday’s all-around-disastrous 2-0 road loss to the Rangers. That will not be the case tonight. The team will go back to six defensemen. Luke Schenn will join Carlo Colaiacovo as a healthy scratch. Right winger Jason Akeson will re-enter the lineup.
On the injury front, left winger Michael Raffl (right foot) is out. Chris VandeVelde (lower body) is doubtful for tonight. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto (lower body) is questionable. Islanders outlook
The Islanders started out the season well, hit a rut for a couple of weeks and then resumed playing excellent hockey. Entering tonight, the Islanders will be looking for their ninth win in their last 10 games. The Islanders are coming off a home-and-home sweep of the Penguins.
On Friday in Pittsburgh, the Isles skated off with a 5-4 win via shootout. The next night in New York, the score was tied 1-1 at the second intermission before the Islanders exploded for three unanswered goals in the third period. Matt Martin, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson (power play) and John Tavares (two-point game) paced the offense. Jaroslav Halak stopped 27 of 28 shots.
Tavares enters tonight’s game with eight goals (four power play) and 20 points in 20 games to lead the team. Kyle Okposo and Nelson are one point apiece in back of Tavares. Nelson’s 10 goals and six power play tallies top the squad. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk (two goals, 11 assists) leads the defense in scoring and boasts a plus-seven rating at even strength. Martin, who leads the NHL with 93 credited hits, scored in both games of the home-and-home set with the Penguins.
On the Islanders injury front, Eric Boulton (lower body), Matt Carkner (back) and Michael Grabner (lower body) are all on IR. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)
Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 3.00 (T-6th), Islanders 3.20 (3rd)
Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 3.05 (25th), Islanders 2.85 (20th)
Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 1.00 (T-15th), Islanders 1.15 (9th)
Power play efficiency: Flyers 23.5% (4th), Islanders 19.5% (15th)
Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 71.9% (30th), Islanders 75.4% (25th)
Faceoff percentage: Flyers 50.8% (12th), Islanders 48.3% (22nd) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)
10 Brayden Schenn – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek
24 Matt Read – 14 Sean Couturier – 17 Wayne Simmonds
18 R.J. Umberger – 49 Scott Laughton – 40 Vincent Lecavalier
36 Zac Rinaldo – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 42 Jason Akeson
5 Braydon Coburn – 55 Nick Schultz
8 Nicklas Grossmann – 32 Mark Streit
15 Michael Del Zotto – 47 Andrew MacDonald
35 Steve Mason
[29 Ray Emery]
Scratches: Luke Schenn (healthy), Carlo Colaiacovo (healthy), Michael Raffl (right foot, IR), Chris VandeVelde (lower body, doubtful).
86 Nikolay Kulemin – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
27 Anders Lee – 29 Brock Nelson – 18 Ryan Strome
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
2 Nick Leddy – 55 Johnny Boychuk
44 Calvin de Haan – 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 11 Lubomir Visnovsky
41 Jaroslav Halak
[30 Chad Johnson]
Scratches: Eric Boulton (lower body, IR), Matt Carkner (back, IR) and Michael Grabner (lower body, IR), Cory Conacher (healthy), Matt Donovan (healthy), Brian Strait (healthy).
*********** FLYERS ALUMNI NEWS
* Continuing what has become an annual tradition of helping the less fortunate over the holidays, members of the Flyers Alumni Association will travel today to St Francis Inn in Kensington to drop off a truckload of food to assist the organization for Thanksgiving. The Alumni and volunteers will load up the truck at Sysco Foods in South Philadephia and then deliver it to St. Francis Inn.
St. Francis Inn is located at 2441 Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to the food donation, the organization will gladly accept donations of blankets, coats, hats, gloves and other cold-weather necessities. For more information, call (215) 424-5845.
* Upcoming Flyers Alumni events:
12/14/14: Game at Bucks County Ice Sports in Warminster, PA 4:00 p.m.
12/28/14: Game vs. Cherokee Alumni at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ – 3:30 p.m.
1/10/15: Game at Aston Ice Works in Aston, PA – 7:30 p.m.
1/17/15: Game at Aston Ice Works in Aston, PA benefiting The Center for Autism- 7:00 p.m.
3/7/15: Game at University of Delaware Ice Arena in Newark, DE – 7:00 p.m.
For more information, visit the Flyers Alumni official website.