The New York Islanders will look to continue their strong November push to the top of the Eastern Conferences Metropolitan Division tonight against the rival Philadelphia Flyers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Isles come in having won eight of their last ten games, including a two game home and home sweep of the Metro topping Pittsburgh Penguins. Right now, the Isles are the NHL’s hottest team.
The Flyers, on the other hand, have lost four of their last five games, are sixth in the Metropolitan and have struggled so far this season away from home, posting a 2-6-0 record away from Philly.
Which is why this game terrifies me.
This game has “letdown game” written all over it from an Islander point of view. Playing a struggling team, one that has given the Isles fits in the past, after racking up two huge victories in highly emotional games to draw even with Pittsburgh atop the Metro, it would only be natural for the Islanders to let their guard down a little bit tonight. Jack Capuano must find a way to ensure that this does not occur.
The Isles have proven they can skate with the big boys of the NHL, but the mark of a team that can challenge for a division title is the ability to beat the team’s that you are supposed to beat on a consistent basis. Tonight is a chance for the Isles to do exactly that.
As a divisional opponent there are plenty of familiar faces on the Flyers roster, but one player , Andrew MacDonald, is a familiar face making his debut against the Isles after 295 games in Orange and Blue. AMac was a target for much criticism, especially at the end of his Islander tenure, but he was a solid player for the franchise for the majority of his stay on the Island. Given his contract status for the Isles, during his time he may have been the best ‘bang for your buck’ player on the team, earning only $575K or less every season for the Isles. The 28 year old certainly got himself a pay raise this off season when he landed a 5 year, $30 million dollar contract from the Flyers, a sum the Isles were never going to cough up for him.