After starting the first fifteen games of the season 4-10-1, the Philadelphia Flyers can climb to .500 with a win against the New York Islanders.
The Islanders (8-12-3) have struggled recently, having last their last two games along with going 3-7 in their last ten. They are also playing the backend of a back-to-back stretch in Pennsylvania. Friday night, the Islanders lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3.
The last time the Flyers and Islanders met, Vincent Lecavalier scored a hat trick in a 5-2 Flyers win. Reaching the .500 was a mountain for the Flyers to climb during the
2012 2013 season. After numerous attempts to even their record, the Flyer did not reach the .500 mark until they defeated the Ottawa Senators on Mar. 2.
Ilya Bryzgalov was a major factor in that game, stopping 33 shots in a 2-1 win. Goaltending will be a major factor in tonight’s game. Steve Mason – 6-7-2, 2.12 goals against average, .932 save percentage – will get the start tonight. He will be opposed by Kevin Poulin who played Friday night against the Penguins. Poulin made 30 saves in a 4-3 loss. He is 3-7-0 with a 2.92 goals against average, and an .896 save percentage.
The Flyers offense should keep rolling tonight as long as they fire quality shots on Poulin and sustain pressure in the offensive zone. Goaltenders do not often play two consecutive nights in a row, so Poulin may not have the same energy as he may have had last night. Poulin is 0-2-0, with a 4.54 goals against and an .845 save percentage in his last two starts.
The Sean Couturier line will likely be matched up against Jonathan Tavares. The Islanders captain has 26 points in 23 games and is a constant offensive threat, especially with sniper Thomas Vanek, who scored twice against Pittsburgh, back in the lineup. New York has other offensive weapons in Frans Nielson and Kyle Okposo to keep the Flyers defense honest.
One element the Flyers must improve on is special teams. The penalty kill has dropped to the middle of the pack and the power play failed to capitalize on two separate 5-on-3 powerplays against the Buffalo Sabres.
Following tonight’s game, the Flyers will hit the road for eight of their next nine games, which includes a six-game road trip that begins in Nashville.
On the Flyers website, Steve Mason spoke about the three-game homestand and what tonight’s win would mean for the orange and black.
“It would be great to go 3-0 on this homestand. We had a good road trip and to be able to come home with some pretty solid play so far and have that continue is what we need to get ourselves back in the playoff picture and we’re slowly achieving that goal.”
- Steve Mason
See if the Flyers can climb back to .500 for the first time this season. Get your Flyers tickets to tonight’s game or any game all season long here!