Game 50 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Islanders

Image courtesy of nydailynews.com

Philadelphia Flyers (25-19-5) @ New York Islanders (19-24-7), 1:00pm, CSN-Philly/MSG Plus

The Philadelphia Flyers may have won two of their last three games and currently be on a three-game point streak, but they need to improve their starts to games if they want to keep gaining ground in the Metropolitan Division.

Although they beat the New York Islanders 6-4 in the first game of their home-and-home on Saturday night, the Orange and Black didn’t play good for the first 40 minutes. Thankfully for the Flyers and their fans, the final 20 minutes featured a 14-2 shot advantage for the hosts and a plus-3 goal differential. Philly might be great at comebacks, but it’s not an ideal situation to be in for every game of the season. The approach of trailing early and coming back later may work now, as the Flyers take on several of the Eastern Conference teams and lower-tier teams in the Western Conference, but later in the year it will be more difficult to pull off this type of victory against the Los Angeles Kings or St. Louis Blues.

One important player to keep an eye on for the Orange and Black is Andrej Meszaros. With three goals and five points over his last three games, Meszaros is returning to his play as a monster on the blue line. Whether Paul Holmgren is looking to deal him at the trade deadline or sign him to a possible extension, Meszaros’ improved play has done nothing but help the Flyers. The only negative from Meszaros’ play is the growth and use of Erik Gustafsson, who hasn’t taken part in a game since December 21st.

Today’s game won’t be an easy one for the Flyers, as the Islanders are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. If the Flyers come out and fall behind early again, the Isles will most likely not allow a comeback since they saw what happened just two days ago. Although the Islanders still sit 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division, the Orange and Black still need to grab as many points as they can out of the division. With games coming up against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flyers are in the midst of a pivotal stretch of games where every point is important.

RECORDS
Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 25-19-5
Road: 12-11-4
Against the Eastern Conference: 17-12-3
Against the Metropolitan Division: 9-6-2

New York Islanders
Overall: 19-24-7
Home: 7-9-7
Against the Eastern Conference: 10-15-6
Against the Metropolitan Division: 3-11-3

PROJECTED LINEUPS
Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read – Sean Couturier – Vincent Lecavalier
Steve Downie – Adam Hall – Jay Rosehill

Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit – Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn – Andrej Meszaros

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

New York Islanders
Thomas Vanek – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey – Frans Nielsen – Cal Clutterbuck
Michael Grabner – Brock Nelson – Colin McDonald
Eric Boulton – Casey Cizikas – Matt Martin

Brian Strait – Andrew MacDonald
Calvin de Haan – Matt Donovan
Matt Carkner – Thomas Hickey

Kevin Poulin
Anders Nilsson

TEAM LEADERS
Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Wayne Simmonds, 16
Assists: Claude Giroux, 31
Points: Claude Giroux, 44
Power-Play Points: Claude Giroux, 19
Plus/Minus: Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell, plus-5
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 101
Average TOI: Braydon Coburn, 22:46
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.56
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .915

New York Islanders
Goals: John Tavares, 22
Assists: John Tavares, 36
Points: John Tavares, 58
Power-Play Points: John Tavares, 22
Plus/Minus: Thomas Vanek, plus-10
PIMs: Matt Carkner, 88
Average TOI: Andrew MacDonald, 25:52
GAA: Evgeni Nabokov, 2.88
Save Percentage: Evgeni Nabokov, .905

INJURIES
Philadelphia Flyers
Zac Rinaldo – Left ankle injury (Injured Reserve)

New York Islanders
Travis Hamonic – Upper-body injury (day-to-day)
Evgeni Nabokov – Lower-body injury (Injured Reserve)
Lubomir Visnovsky – Concussion (returned to skating)

FORMER PLAYERS
Former Islanders in Philadelphia’ organization
With Philadelphia: Ron Hextall (Assistant General Manager), Chris Pryor (Director of Hockey Operations).
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Yann Danis, Bruno Gervais
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): Bretton Cameron (Stockton Thunder), Jordie Johnston (Bridgeport Sound Tigers), Marc-Olivier Vallerand (Bridgeport Sound Tigers).

Former Flyers in New York’s organization
With New York: Garth Snow (General Manager), Bob Corkum (Development Coach).
With the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL): Matt Lowry (Greenville Road Warriors).
With the Stockton Thunder (ECHL): Lee Baldwin (Greenville Road Warriors), Ryan Hayes (Greenville Road Warriors).