Escape From Losing Island: Flyers Host Islanders; Look to End Losing Ways
Philadelphia Flyers (13-17-1) vs New York Islanders (15-15-3)
Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia, PA
7:00 p.m. on CSN and 97.5 FM The Fanatic
Setting the Stage
This is the second of four meetings between the two teams with the final three meetings coming in the final month of the season. The Flyers won the first game back on February 18, destroying the Islanders 7-0. It was also the last time Danny Briere scored a goal for the Flyers, but he is out with a concussion.
The Flyers are currently on a three-game losing streaking, having lost seven of their last nine games. They've earned points (5 total) in only three of those games.
The Islanders are 9-4-1 on the road. After dropping three straight, the Islanders are on a two-game winning streak, including a 3-0 shutout of the Panthers on March 24.
What to Expect
The Flyers can't get any worse than what happened on Tuesday. A bounce-back game against the Islanders will be beneficial if they want to convince themselves they can pull off the comeback in the standings. The last time they needed to shake a rough patch they destroyed the Islanders 7-0 in February.
This is a different New York team though. John Tavares has finally broken out as a dominating player for the Islanders. He leads the team with 35 points (20 goals, 15 assists) and is second in the league with 20 goals. Matt Moulson is right behind him in points with 34 (11 goals, 23 assists).
The Flyers power play continues to be red hot. They've gone 2-for-2 in their last two games combined, improving to 23 percent overall, third in the NHL.
The Masked Men
Ilya Bryzgalov will be in net for the 31st time this season. He played fantastic in the first period of Tuesday's loss, but couldn't keep it up as the rest of his team didn't give him any support.
Evgeni Nabakov will continue to handle the bulk of the work load for the Islanders. This will be his 14th start in the last 15 games by the Islanders. He has a 2.80 GAA and .902 save percentage on the season for the Islanders. He has been in net for all 15 of their wins.
Keys to the Game
1. Rinaldo. Start Zac Rinaldo's line and let the Atlantic Division's newest terror wreak havoc. He's sparked his team early before by doing that so why not turn him loose on the opening draw. Couldn't hurt their chances, right?
2. Less Passing, More Shooting. The Flyers move the puck well in the offensive zone. But they rely on it too much. Guys like Matt Read, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek need to put the puck on net more. When Giroux fired a slapped from the point in the third period on Tuesday, it deflected into the net. That is how chances happen -- by shooting the puck. Giroux and Voracek are the team leaders in points so it's expected of them to put the puck on net consistently.
3. Energy and Effort. It needs to be better than the embarrassing effort give on Tuesday against the Rangers. Whether it's a big hit by Rinaldo, a solid forecheck by Max Talbot and Scott Hartnell, or an early offensive chance the Flyers need to build momentum and put forth a much better effort. Don't fall behind and expect to come back. It's not working this year.
“I think we have one of the most talented groups in the NHL. It’s just about believing in ourselves. Don’t go too high when you are winning and don’t go too low when you are losing.” -- Jakub Voracek.