Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
Today, the New York Islanders (19-24-7, 45 Points) host the Philadelphia Flyers (25-19-5, 55 Points) in game no. 51 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale NY
When: Monday, January 20th, 2014, 1PM
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
Today, the Islanders take on a familiar opponent; the Philadelphia Flyers. This is the second of a home and home against Philly. The boys in blue and orange lost a winnable game on Saturday night as they failed to show up for the 3rd period. They gave up a 2-goal lead and a separate 1 goal lead in a 6-4 loss to the Flyers.
The Isles have been trending in the wrong direction lately. After a loss to Florida, they had a big win in Tampa, but then followed it up with another bad loss to Philly. Losing 2 out of 3 games is not going to get you into the playoffs.
Everyone is entitled to a bad game every now and then, and let’s hope Kevin Poulin got that out of his system. Regardless of when Evgeni Nabokov comes back, the Isles are going to need him to be strong down the stretch. If the Isles could develop a 1-2 goaltending tandem, that is one less issue that needs to be solved. The defense is certainly suffering without Travis Hamonic. His solid leadership and strong defensive play is most definitely missed. He is out with a concussion and his return is uncertain.
On the flip side, the Islanders did get some good news about Lubomir Visnovsky, who has missed 43 games with post concussion syndrome. He has been cleared to practice, and will undergo a baseline test to see if he is ready for contact. To get Lubo back, maybe shortly before the Olympic break, would be a huge boost for an already overworked Islanders defense that has had to employ the likes of Radek Martinek to set it straight. Although he has always been there when the Isles needed him, Martinek is well past the point of meaningful contributor and should only be used on an emergency basis. With 2 of the Isles top defensemen out with injury, this would qualify.
The team’s next 3 games are all within the division. They are down to 10 games before the Olympic break. The Isles follow up a tough test against the Flyers, whom they have yet to beat this season, with a game tomorrow night against the suddenly red-hot Rangers. In the next 7 days the Isles must face the Rangers, Penguins, Blues & Bruins. They failed their first test. In order to get a good grade, they are going to need to step it up during the next 10 games.
What They’re Saying
“I feel like a hockey player right now because when I wake up, my legs are sore, not just my head. My body feels like it did before and it’s a great feeling. I am happy to skate with the guys.”
-Islanders’ Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky on his impending return from injury
“When we try to do too much, that’s when we get in trouble. We get out of position, and like I said, we just shot ourselves in the foot. When we started playing our game, playing as a system, that’s when we’re a dangerous team.”
-Flyers’ Center Claude Giroux on his team’s play
“The only good thing here is we have them again in a couple of days in our own barn”
-Islanders’ Defenseman Andrew MacDonald speaking on Saturday about today’s afternoon affair
“We played on our heels and they are going to come at you. They have a lot of skill and it’s a tough place to play in. We have to play a full 60 minutes.”
-Islanders’ Center John Tavares on losing to the Flyers on Saturday night
Today’s game completes the season series vs the Flyers (0-3-0).
The Islanders are 54-54-15-2 against the Flyers at home all time.
The Isles are 17-5-2 when they score at least three goals and are 2-19-5 when they do not.
The Islanders next 5 games are in the NY area, including the phony home game at Yankee Stadium.
Since the 1999-2000 season the Flyers have posted a mark of 30-7-1-2 in 40 games at Nassau Coliseum.
The opponent has scored first in 30 of the Islanders 50 games so far.
26 Thomas Vanek – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
12 Josh Bailey – 51 Frans Nielsen – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
40 Michael Grabner – 29 Brock Nelson – 13 Colin McDonald
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 36 Eric Boulton
Injured Reserve: 11 Visnovsky, 20 Nabokov