While the Rangers would be perfect, the other team from New York could pose a problem if they meet the Flyers in the first round.
There are eight different teams that the Flyers could match up with in the first round. It all depends on how they do in the round-robin. And which teams make it out of the play-in series. The winner of the round-robin would play the highest remaining seed of the eight-team play-in.
In a scenario where the Flyers match up against the Islanders, they would not have captured the top seed in the conference. The Isles can’t end up as the lowest remaining seed. They are currently the seventh seed going on.
So the Flyers would likely finish around the middle to make a matchup with the Isles possible. And based on the season series, it would not be an easy task to overcome. Everything is different in the playoffs and the teams will be on similar pages. But the season series gives us an idea of how the team teams fared against each other.
The two met three times during the regular season. And while every game was close, the Flyers weren’t able to win a single matchup.
October 27th: 5-3 Islanders
It was early on in the regular season when the two teams met for the first time. But the Islanders were already off to a hot start. They came in winning their last six games. The Flyers were coming off of three straight. It was the second half of a back-to-back for Philly as well.
The Flyers did get an early lead in this one in what would turn out to be their only lead of the game. Jakub Voracek grabbed his fourth of the season just over a minute into the game. It was after that when the wheels began to fall off, however.
Allowing all five goals, Hart was pulled during the second period. Brian Elliott was able to shut things down, stopping all 19 shots he faced. That gave the Flyers a chance to try and make a comeback. Unfortunately, it was too late. Claude Giroux cut the deficit to two goals in the third, but that was the closest they would get.
Travis Konecny did continue his hot start by getting the team to within one at the end of the first. But two more Islanders scored back-to-back goals. This time it was Ryan Pulock and Mathew Barzal scoring 1:25 apart. Eleven different Isles ended up registering a point in the game.
The two teams would meet again in November where the Flyers were this close to pulling out the victory.
November 16th: 4-3 Islanders (SO)
It was the second consecutive time the Flyers faced the Islanders on the second half of a back-to-back. The previous night saw them drop a close game to the Ottawa Senators. This was a game the Flyers hand in hand going into the final frame.
Sean Couturier scored early in the first period while Ivan Provorov grabbed a late goal. Oskar Lindblom rounded out the scoring for Philadelphia with his goal over midway through the second. But the Islanders stormed back in the third period.
It would turn out to be the fourth time in the last six games that the Flyers held a multi-goal lead, but played past regulation. While they pulled out a win in two of those games, there were unable to do the same here.
Anthony Beauvillier got the comeback started for the Islanders when he took advantage of a bad line-change from the Flyers. It allowed him to break in on Elliott. Barzal brought the Isles to within one with his power-play goal. It was Beauvillier once more who ended up tying the goal with about two minutes left in regulation.
Elliott wasn’t able to grab the bouncing puck as the Isles grabbed a point in their 14th straight game. Neither team was able to grab the final goal in overtime, so this one headed to a shootout.
Jordan Eberle put the pressure on early as he was able to beat Elliott with the wrist shot. Couturier couldn’t beat Thomas Greiss. That gave Barzal the chance to put even more pressure on the Flyers to score. He was able to go just that, forcing Giroux to have to score to keep things going.
He was unable to do so, giving the Islanders their 13th win in 14 games. The teams wouldn’t meet again until mid-February. It ended up being quite a heartbreaking affair.
February 11th: 5-3 Islanders
So it turns out the Flyers can only play the Islanders during a back-to-back. It was the third consecutive time it happened this season. Philadelphia was coming off a home win against the Florida Panthers. It seemed like fatigue caught up with them towards the end of this game.
It was the Isles who got out to the fast start in this one. It was a couple of tough luck goals-against Elliott. The first came when a shot by Josh Bailey deflected off the stick of Tyler Pitlick. Matt Martin was on the receiving end of a 2-on-1 opportunity with Leo Komarov.
Jordan Eberle grabbed the Islanders’ final goal of the first period off a rebound of a Barzal shot. The Flyers weren’t going to give up, though. Just like the Isles did the previous game, Philadelphia rattled off three straight goals to tie the game.
Konecny and Robert Hagg brought the Flyers to within one with goals in the second period. It looked like this game was headed for overtime when Couturier was able to tie the game with about a minute and a half to go. Giroux’s pass from the end boards deflected off the skate of Scott Mayfield, giving Couturier the perfect opportunity.
That was when the Isles would lay the crushing blow. Pulock would beat Elliott with 41 seconds remaining in the period. He was all alone by the blue line as he skated in and blasted a shot top-corner behind Elliott.
The Flyers were then forced to go with the empty-net to try and get their own late goal. Komarov would pot the empty netter as the Flyers dropped a true heartbreaker.
While they won’t have to worry about facing the Islanders on a back-to-back every single time, they still played the Flyers tough each game. Even when they looked dominant, the Isles were able to fight back every single time.
Limiting the damage and not breaking down will be the biggest key to defeating the Islanders if the two teams end up meeting in the first round.