Game 2 between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers is almost here. Here are three keys for an Isles win.
Puck drop for Game 2 is right around the corner. With a 1-0 series lead, the New York Islanders look to increase their lead in their second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers to 2-0.
Winning game two won’t be easy of course. The Islanders are up against a deep and well-coached team that will be highly motivated to atone for their mistakes in Game 1. Not to mention they have a solid goalie between the pipes in Carter Hart.
Here are a few things the Isles should keep in mind as they hit the ice for Game 2.
Stay Out of the Box
The Islanders were only penalized twice in Game 1 versus the Flyers. Both of those penalties came in the closing minutes of the third period when the Isles were already up 4-0.
Only one of those penalties, a stupid Mathew Barzal high-sticking penalty, actually resulted in a Philly power play. Of course, Philadelphia didn’t convert on that one power-play opportunity, but I don’t trust the Islanders to keep up that 100 percent PK in this series.
The Flyers power play was effective 20.8 percent of the time in the regular season. While that was only good enough for 14th in the NHL for 2019-20, we saw the Capitals put in four power-play goals in five games and they were less effective than the Flyers in the regular season.
Don’t Rely on Varlamov
The Islanders are getting incredible goalkeeping from Semyon Varlamov in the postseason. The Russian goalie is one of the better shot-stoppers in the playoffs with eight wins and a 1.50GAA and 0.941SV% in ten games.
But at times in Game 1, it felt that the Isles relied on Varlamov to get them out of a jam. It’s one thing to be confident that your goalie can come up with a big save when the team needs him too, it’s another thing to force him into a position where he needs too as frequently as he did in Game 2.
The second period in Game 1 could have gone way worse for the Islanders if not for Varlamov. The Islanders can’t turtle as they did in period two. They must press the advantage. Varlamov will be there to bail the Islanders if something goes wrong. But the Islanders shouldn’t make him bail them out.
Keep Rolling Four Lines
Brock Nelson had the most ice time for an Islanders forward in Game 1 with 17:43 in all situations. Ross Johnston had the least amount of ice time with 11:13 (all at 5on5).
Barry Trotz used all four lines with near-identical usage in Game 1, to great success. Half of the Islanders forwards had a point in Game 1. With fresh legs, the Islanders were able to survive the Flyers pressure and put up four goals at the other end of the ice.
The Flyers will certainly rely on their top guys who were ghosts in Game 1 today. Rolling four fresh lines should allow the Isles to do what they do best and come away with a win.