PREVIEW: FLYERS @ ISLANDERS
Craig Berube’s Philadelphia Flyers (18-21-7) are in action for a Monday matinee on Long Island against Jack Capuano’s New York Islanders (30-14-1). Game time is 1:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised nationally on NHL Network and locally on TCN Philadelphia.
This is the second of four meetings between the team and the last game the Flyers will ever play at the Nassau County Coliseum (barring the unlikely event of a playoff clash this season).
On Nov. 24 in Uniondale, the Flyers and Islanders battled to a scoreless tie through 65 minutes of hockey before the Islanders prevailed via shootout. The teams will rematch at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 5 and April 7.
The Flyers played on Saturday in Buffalo and will host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. The Islanders had back-to-back games hosting Pittsburgh on Friday and on the road in Montreal on Saturday. Monday’s game is the Islanders’ final one before the All-Star break. Flyers outlook
The Flyers enter this coming coming off a 4-3 win over the Sabres. Philly trailed, 1-0, at the first intermission and were tied, 2-2, after 40 minutes. Power play goals by R.J. Umberger and Mark Streit in the second period were supplemented by Chris VandeVelde and Michael Raffl goals to build a 4-2 lead. Rob Zepp made his fourth start and fifth appearance for the Flyers, picking up his third win. Zepp played well enough to stop 24 of 27 shots.
Over their last 22 games overall, the Flyers are 10-8-4. When scoring four or more goals this season, Philly is 14-1-1. When scoring three or fewer goals in a game, Philly has a 4-20-6 record.
Penalty killing has by far been the Flyers single biggest problem this season. The club’s 73.4 percent penalty killing percentage is not only the lowest in the NHL during the 2014-15 season, it’s the worst of any NHL team since the 1993-94 Ottawa Senators (73.3%).
At even strength, the Flyers are a shade below the break-even point on the season. The team scores an average 0.97 goals at five-on-five for each one it yields. The power play remains Philadelphia’s biggest strength. The team’s 23.1 percent power play success rate ranks 6th in the NHL.
Entering Thursday’s game, Jakub Voracek still leads the NHL Art Ross Trophy race with 53 points. However, Voracek has only one multi-point game since the Christmas break and has been kept off the scoresheet in six of the last 12 games. The Czech forward leads the Flyers with 17 goals, one ahead of Wayne Simmonds.
Giroux is tied for third in the NHL with 35 assists and is fifth in points with 49. His 23 power play points (eight power play goals, 15 assists) are second in the NHL to St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s 24 points.
Streit is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen this season with 32 overall scoring points (six goals, 26 assists). The veteran Swiss player is 3rd among NHL defensemen with 17 power play points.
On the Philadelphia injury front, rookie center Scott Laughton is day-to-day with an upper-body injury sustained on Wednesday. Defenseman Braydon Coburn (left foot) is expected to miss approximately four weeks from Jan. 12. Starting goaltender Steve Mason is expected to miss up to two weeks with the suspected right knee injury he sustained on Jan. 10. Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann (right shoulder) is expected to miss approximately three weeks from an injury sustained on Jan. 8. Islanders outlook
The much-improved Islanders are in first place in the Metropolitan Division and have won seven of their last 10 games. The team is coming off a 6-4 loss to Montreal on Saturday.
The Islanders trailed, 1-0, at the first intermission, which grew to 2-0 just 10 seconds into the second period. Kyle Okposo trimmed the deficit to one goal until a Montreal power play goal restored the two-goal lead. Late in the second period, Nikolay Kulemin made it a 3-2 game.
In the third period, it took all of 52 seconds for Montreal to extend the lead to 4-2. The Habs subsequently built the advantage to 6-2 before late goals by Anders Lee and John Tavares (power play) reduced the final margin to 6-4.
Entering this game, Tavares leads the team in both goals (20) and points (43 in 44 games). Okposo paces the team in assists (29) and is one point behind Tavares. Johnny Boychuk leads the defense with 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) and is plus-11 on the season. Jaroslav Halak has posted a 2.36 goals against average, .912 save percentage and four shutouts (including one against the Flyers).
Mikhail Grabovski, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury, skated on Sunday. Matt Carkner is on injured reserve with a back injury. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)
Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.65 (20th), Islanders 3.07 (4th)
Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 2.87 (23rd), Islanders 2.76 (21st)
Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.97 (19th), Islanders 1.12 (9th)
Power play efficiency: Flyers 23.1% (6th), Islanders 19.0% (14th)
Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 73.4% (30th), Islanders 74.6% (38th)
Faceoff percentage: Flyers 50.7% (13th), Islanders 48.6% (21st) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)
12 Michael Raffl – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek
18 R.J. Umberger – 10 Brayden Schenn – 17 Wayne Simmonds
36 Zac Rinaldo – 14 Sean Couturier – 24 Matt Read
76 Chris VandeVelde – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 40 Vincent Lecavalier
15 Michael Del Zotto – 55 Nick Schultz
47 Andrew MacDonald – 32 Mark Streit
26 Carlo Colaiacovo – 22 Luke Schenn
72 Rob Zepp
[29 Ray Emery]
Scratches: Scott Laughton (upper body), Braydon Coburn (left foot), Nicklas Grossmann (IR, right shoulder), Steve Mason (IR, right knee).
12 Josh Bailey – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
27 Anders Lee – 51 Frans Nielsen – 18 Ryan Strome
40 Michael Grabner – 29 Brock Nelson – Nikolay Kulemin
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 – 37 Brian Strait
41 Jaroslav Halak
[30 Chad Johnson]
Scratches: Mikhail Grabovski (day-to-day, lower body), Matt Carkner (IR, back), Eric Boulton (healthy), Matt Donovan (healthy), Lubomir Visnovski (IR, upper body).