Flyers vs Islanders preview, playing time, how to look and roster
As the Flyers reached the midpoint of the 2021 regular season and celebrated a 4-3 victory on Thursday night, one that featured one of their best periods of their season (a middle manager who saw the Flyers fully control the course of play en route to a 3-0 victory) immediately followed by what was almost the most demoralizing moment of their season (which is saying something, given what had happened literally a night earlier), something has come to me both objectively, obviously true and yet right feels so completely wrong that I almost refused to process it:
“Holy shit, this team is 3-0 against the Islanders this season. “
Right? Remember? The Flyers beat the Isles in overtime on two consecutive nights at the end of January, and the teams played their third of eight this season on Thursday night’s roller coaster. It is, indeed, true that in those three games, the Flyers scored more goals than the Islanders and, as such, “won” those games.
Yet it still seems so difficult to process those wins, as no team manages to put the Flyers (and us Flyers fans) on their way to victory like the Islanders do. Including the playoff in the bubble, the Flyers’ last six wins over the Islanders have featured them all with a two-goal lead en route to the Islanders, ultimately tying the game, forcing the Flyers to stage a late push for victory. (This push usually comes in overtime – before Thursday’s win, each of those last five wins required overtime.)
Now let’s ask some questions. First: is blowing leads bad? Yes. Yes it is.
Is this entirely just to feel that these are dirty, dirty victories that hardly count as victories? Not really. Like a a quick reminder of how score effects work will remind us, it is more difficult to take a lead of several goals than to rally to erase one. And honestly, that Thursday night game was a really good performance until we got about seven minutes left; unlike many of those other jaw-snatch-of-defeat-snatch-from-the-first-time-victory-wins, the Flyers were truly the better team than the Islanders throughout. the good majority of that game, and the goalie didn’t let go of one, two or three goals that ranged from “well, he could I stopped that “and” yeah, he sure should have stopped that “, maybe the whole tone of it all sounds different. Honestly, you play like that most nights, you’re going to win most nights.
Is this really will it make us feel better? No, this is not the case.
Either way, the Flyers face the Islanders again tonight. They could win. They might not. They will almost certainly make us feel pain.
Players to watch
It’s a chalked choice after scoring two goals, including the game-winner on Thursday. But Thursday night was a presentation of Oskar ahead of the fall 2019 diagnosis, with him practicing as a physical presence along the board and in front of the net and using his strength and intelligence to win battles. and get to the right places. It all happened one night after Lindblom was in good health, in what Alain Vigneault called a “reset” for the forward who is still trying to get back to where he was before this diagnosis. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the movement at the time, but perhaps that short day off did a lot of good for Oskar – who was undeniably struggling in the previous few games? I’m not 100% convinced, but I’ll be happy to face the potential that I’m wrong if that means Oskar continues to play the way he did on Thursday.
Starting goalie Pick your own adventure (but probably Brian Elliott) As of this writing on Friday night, Saturday’s starter is unconfirmed, but it is assumed here that it will be Brian Elliott, given that this week Carter Hart has allowed 12 goals in 2.5 games and comes from play back to back both evenings. It is theoretically possible that Alex Lyon, who has played a professional hockey game since the sports world shut down in March of last year, could take that start; the Flyers called him from the cab squad ahead of Thursday’s game and had him sit on the bench in what was a clear attempt to give Elliott a rest, and if they want to go even further into that thought, they could maybe give the future 36-year-old also a weekend pass. But the most likely choice is Elliott. Who, in each of their last four starts, aa) lost and b) either gave up four goals or got called out before they could give up a fourth goal. Everything is fine.
Ha! Ha ha! It was all wrong! I wrote this all last night thinking there was no way they would go back to Hart, for (if you include his appearance in half the Rangers debacle) the third time in four nights and the fourth time in six nights, given how badly these games generally went. And then they went and announced this morning that they were going to do that. Looks like they’re really determined to give Elliott a break, which is good. Which brings us back to Hart, who played well for 40 minutes last Thursday, then sort of lost his wheels in the third. The coaching staff seem to think they are headed in the right direction, but from a workload and recent game perspective getting back to them tonight is a risk. Hope this is the right one.
Two big questions
What if they get an advance?
I don’t want to dwell on that here, because there are already a bunch of paragraphs on that on this topic. The Flyers tend to take early leads against the Islanders and then they tend to lose those leads. Whether it’s a fluke or a by-product of what the islands do, things … tend to go wrong. A failed mission, a lost battle, a failed stop, and things start to snowball. Beating the Islanders in overtime is cool. But do you know what’s really cool? Beat the Islanders in regulation. Do you know what’s even cooler? Beat the Islanders in regulation in a way that doesn’t give all of your fans a hard blow. Maybe try.
A defense unit? Perhaps?
That said, despite the pain this game has tended to bring to the Flyers lately, the Flyers team’s defense against the Islanders as a whole has certainly been better than it was last season and in the bubble. According to the Natural Stat Trick and Evolving-Hockey’s Expected Goal models, Thursday was the Flyers’ stingiest defensive performance of the season in terms of expected goals against, both overall and 5v5. of the first, the Flyers allowed only one high-risk scoring chance in the first two periods of the game, and that happened on a power play in the first. Between this and the Flyers’ previous game against the Islanders – yes, another 4-3 win with a bloated lead, but in which the Flyers also largely controlled the game and in which they only allowed 1, 02 xG at 5 vs 5 by NST – there was some momentum here. Against a team that really felt like a bogeyman throughout last season and frankly raced in the East for much of this year, that’s an encouraging sign. If they can just get goalies.
(I’m just going to slip that last sentence in there and hope no one notices.)
Tonight’s game begins at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on television locally on NBC Sports Philadelphia and nationally on NHL Network, or heard on radio via 97.5 The Fanatic. Vigneault also said there will be no roster changes starting Thursday, which means we’re looking at the following again:
van Riemsdyk – Dressmaker – Farabee
Laughton – Hayes – Voracek
Lindblom – Giroux – Konecny
Twarynski – Patrick – Aube-Kubel
Provorov – Braun
Sanheim – Myers
Gustafsson – Prosser