Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
Tonight, the New York Islanders (19-23-7, 45 Points) visit the Philadelphia Flyers (24-19-5, 53Points) in game no. 50 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When: Sunday, January 18th, 2014, 7PM
TV: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)
Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Greg Picker, Chris King)
Opposition Blog: Broad Street Buzz
Tickets: New York Islanders Tickets
The Philadelphia Flyers are exactly where the Islanders want to be. They started very poorly early on, but have clawed their way back to relevancy and have themselves currently tied for the 2nd playoff spot in the Metro division. Who are they tied with? Let’s not discuss that. Moving on…
The Isles followed up their Florida flop by stealing a game in Tampa Bay in a shootout. It was one of the most boring games you will probably ever want to see, but the main thing is that it was another low-scoring affair and the Isles came out on top. The Islanders yet again fell behind and had to claw their way back in and win. I honestly don’t remember the last time this team scored first.
The Islanders currently sit 7 points out of the Wild Card spot and 8 points behind these same Flyers for the 3rd and final Metro Division playoff spot. Not many people are giving this team a chance, and rightfully so. They dug themselves into such a ridiculous hole that it would take Manute Bol to have seen the light above. However, the Isles are clawing back, having won 8 of their last 10. They are playing typical Islanders hockey; grinding and clawing their way back into relevancy. However, sitting 4 games out (in baseball terms) is not where this team wants to be.
Tonight begins the key stretch of the season. It will determine if the Islanders are contenders or pretenders. Kevin Poulin, who has been outstanding, even during the poor Florida game, will once again be in net. Poulin is playing with a confidence and a swagger we have yet to see from the young netminder. People may look at the Florida game and say well there ya go, he had a bad game. But, not so fast. Not only did the Isles follow up a shaky performance with a grind-it-out W, but those goals were not his fault. The defense in that game was putrid. The team is still adjusting to life without defensive stalwart, Travis Hamonic. He was sent to Long Island for further tests and has not yet been put on IR, but he likely has a concussion.
The team’s next 4 games are all within the division. They are down to 11 games before the Olympic break and still have to face the Flyers again Monday afternoon, followed by Pittsburgh, the Rangers 3 times in a 2 week span, the Blues and the Bruins. This is not going to be easy. But, if the Isles want to make the playoffs, this is where it’s time to show some mettle.
What They’re Saying
“You’re at the end of the trip. You’re going home, it’s the last game. This game and the first one back at home are usually the toughest for a team. Mentally you have to be focused and ready for that challenge. This is a crucial stretch for our hockey team obviously with the points and the divisional play. We have to be ready to play against a really good team.”
-Islanders’ Coach Jack Capuano on the Isles’ upcoming schedule.
“This is a good team, they have four lines, they are deep on defense and they have solid goaltending. They have D that activate and they are playing good hockey right now. We’ve had some ups and downs in this building against this hockey club.”
–Islanders’ Coach Jack Capuano on the Philadelphia Flyers
“Kevin was solid. He really controlled his rebounds. He was really poised back there and he made some timely saves. With [Evgeni Nabokov hurt], this is an opportunity for Kevin and hopefully he’ll keep playing the way he’s been playing for us.”
“We know what we’re going to do each and every time we’re out there, so it makes it easier to read. Kind of know where the other guy is going to be if you’re not in that position, so it’s pretty easy”
- John Tavares is 2nd in the NHL in scoring with 57 points
- The Flyers are 14-2-2 in their last 18 against the Islanders.
- The Flyers are 16-1-2 against the Islanders in Philadelphia since the start of the 2007-08 season
- The Islanders are looking to go 9-1-0 in their last 10 on the road
- John Tavares has eight goals and 11 assists in his past 11 games
- Kevin Poulin is 5-1-0 in his previous six start
- During his six-game hot streak, Poulin has a 2.23 GAA and .918 save percentage.
26 Thomas Vanek – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
36 Eric Boulton – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
40 Michael Grabner – 29 Brock Nelson – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald
Injured Reserve: 11 Visnovsky, 20 Nabokov