The NY Islanders (8-6-5) will look to continue their recent winning ways when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers (10-9-1) tonight at UBS Arena. The Isles, winners of three straight, need to continue picking up points against teams like the Flyers, who are ostensibly rebuilding this year even though they've been more than respectable through the first 20 games of the season. These are the games the Isles can't throw away, and with Ilya Sorokin rested and ready to go, the Isles need to put the pedal to the metal and come away with a win tonight.
The Islanders picked up an important two points last night against the Ottawa Senators with a gutsy 5-3 win. After losing Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho to injuries early in the game, the remaining Isles defense corps had to cover for their fallen comrades- and they more than covered for them. Noah Dobson played a career-high 31:05 and stood out again last night as he continues to ascend and solidify his position as the Isles/ #1 defenseman. Alexander Romanov, Ryan Pulock, and Scott Mayfield also all played between 26 and 30 minutes. When teammate Kyle Palmieri was asked after the game if he could recall a gutsier effort from teammates, he replied "not really."
The Islanders put up 5 goals in the victory, which is a good sign for an offense that has shown signs of life lately. Simon Holmstrom continued his breakout season with a goal, and the captain Anders Lee scored again- another good sign for the Islanders. Kyle Palmieri, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Mathew Barzal scored the other goals for the Islanders, and Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves in the win.
Next up? The division rival Philadelphia Flyers tonight at UBS Arena.
The Isles and Flyers have quite the history. For Isles fans, there's really one memory worth watching every day. On May 24, 1980, Bob Nystrom scored the Stanley-Cup winning goal against the Flyers for what would be the first of four straight Cup wins for the Islanders. To this day, Nystrom is royalty on Long Island.
More recently, things have gone the Flyers way, with the Isles holding a 120-135-26-9 record against Philadelphia all-time head-to-head. Most recently, the Isles defeated the Flyers 3-2 on Wednesday night. Last season, the Isles went 2-1 in three games against the Flyers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
NYI: Alexander Romanov. With Pelech and Aho likely out at least for tonight- and perhaps longer- the Islanders will need to dig deep defensively to survive through this. While their right defense of Dobson/Pulock/Mayfield is still intact, and Samuel Bolduc should adequetly fill in for Aho, the loss of Pelech as that strong LD1 will hurt the Isles. Fortunately, there is one player in the organization capable of filling that role, and that's Romanov. With his skating and physical play, he is the player most capable of filling Pelech's shoes and keeping the Isles afloat while Pelech is out. It will be interesting to see if Romanov is up to the challenge- his fantastic game last night over 30 minutes of ice time is very encouraging in that respect.
PHI: Morgan Frost. With only 2 goals and 2 assists in 10 games this season, Frost has not brought the offense the Flyers were expecting from him. Frost, a former first-round pick in 2017, turns 25 in May, so time is running out for him. Fortunately for him, the Flyers are rebuilding and therefore have some leeway here, but with younger forwards coming up the pipeline, Frost is running out of time. Frost strikes me as a solid change-of-scenery candidate, although the Flyers do not have incentive to sell low here. My best friend Frank is a diehard Flyers fan, and had this to say about Frost: "[Frost] seems to be getting a little more boost this year, but I'd say there's still a degree of truth [to the idea that his time with the Flyers may be running out]."
Mathew Barzal- Bo Horvat- Simon Holmstrom
Pierre Engvall- Brock Nelson- Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee- JG Pageau- Oliver Wahlstrom
Hudson Fasching- Casey Cizikas- Cal Clutterbuck
Alexander Romanov- Noah Dobson
Samuel Bolduc- Ryan Pulock
TBD - Scott Mayfield
Tyson Foerster- Sean Couturier- Travis Konecny
Owen Tippett- Ryan Poehling- Cam Atkinson
Joel Farabee- Noah Cates- Bobby Brink
Nicolas Deslauriers- Scott Laughton- Garnet Hathaway
Cam York- Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler- Sean Walker
Egor Zamula- Marc Staal
Line combinations courtesy of Daily Faceoff.