New York Islanders: Valtteri FIlppula is returning to play tonight
By Matt O'Leary
After suffering an injury on March 19, it was assumed that Valtteri Filppula would miss 4-6 weeks. Today, he makes his return to the New York Islanders.
March 19 was precisely 18 days ago. In less than three weeks, Valtteri Filppula was able to recover from his upper body injury and return to the New York Islanders just in time for the final game of the regular season.
After practicing for the last few days, we began to get optimistic that maybe Filppula would be ready for the start of the playoffs. That still would be considered early from that original timetable set when the injury happened.
Today, in a press conference, Barry Trotz confirmed that Filppula is good to go tonight in Washington. Some great news for the New York Islanders.
Before the season started, the expectations were pretty low for the then 34-year-old, Val Filppula. He definitely exceeded my expectations this year. In the 71 games he played, he netted 15 goals and 29 points.
15 is his highest goal total since the 2013-2014 season when he had a career-high 25 goals. The kind of production and reliability that Filppula gave the Islanders this season is exactly what you want from your third line center.
Essentially, he’s a poor man’s Frans Nielsen. Obviously, Fransy is the better player but Filppula is the off-brand Frans that gets you almost the same kind of production. Actually, while Nielsen has more points (35) he only has 10 goals compared to Filppula’s 15.
The Islanders third line could use some help. The Beauvillier – Komarov – Kuhnhackl line isn’t the most ideal. While they were okay in a small sample size, Komarov is playing out of position. At this point in his career, he’s realistically a fourth line winger but that’s a story for another day.
Kuhnhackl isn’t an everyday player let alone a third liner. He’s fine in a fill-in role off the scratch pad but there’s a reason Trotz was only giving him 10 minutes a night.
Filppula has played 158 career playoff games which is just about the equivalent of two full regular seasons. His production is over a half a point per game in the playoffs, and most recently he put up three points in six games for the Flyers last year at age 34.
The Islanders are lucky to get Filppula back so quickly. You should absolutely notice a difference with the Isles third line.