Maybe a trip up to Long Island is exactly what the Flyers need to right the ship. They have had tremendous success on Long Island as they have won 13 of their last 14 games at Nassau Coliseum, including six straight. Since the start of the 2007-08 season, the Flyers are 28-3-1 against the Islanders. The Flyers are 124-86-26-5 all time against the Islanders and their 124 wins are the second most wins against any franchise behind only Pittsburgh. Briere leads all Flyers with 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 41 career games against the Islanders.
The Flyers are certainly playing physical hockey early on as they are tied for the league lead with 422 total hits, Luke Schenn leading the way with 59 hits which is second best in the NHL. The Flyers are also getting in the shooting lanes as they are fifth in the league with 238 blocked shots, Schenn has 34 of them.
The key to the Flyers success has been entering the third period with a lead. They are 6-0-1 when doing so but 0-9-0 when trailing entering the final frame, a far cry from their playoff success against Pittsburgh. One way to get a lead heading into the third period is by scoring on the power play and they have not scored a power play goal in five games. On the flip side, they have been incredibly efficient on the penalty kill. They have gone 16-for-16 on the penalty kill in their last five games and are 33-for-35 (94.3%) on the penalty kill in their last night games. The Flyers need to make sure they get a good start and maintain. They are 5-3-0 when scoring first but 1-6-1 when allowing the first goal.
Between the Pipes: Ilya Bryzgalov (6-7-1, 2.60 GAA, .907 SV%) – Bryzgalov’s play has dropped off as of late but that could be simple fatigue. He is currently third in the NHL in minutes played this season with 8:06:38 and he has started 14 of the Flyers’ 16 games so far this season. He last started on Friday against the Devils in which he allowed four goals on 18 shots. The Flyers blew a 3-1 lead in that game to lose 5-3. Despite the Flyers success against New York, Bryzgalov has not been quite as dominant. In six career games against the Islanders, Bryzgalov is just 2-1-1 with a 3.06 GAA, .885 SV% and one shutout.
The Islanders enter this afternoon’s game with a little bit of momentum. After losing five straight games they rebounded to beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday night. They had previously been 0-5-0 against the Rangers. They came back from a 2-0 hole to win the game. They followed that up by beating the Eastern Conference leading Devils on Saturday. They dominated New Jersey by scoring three goals in the final 3:14 of the second period and countering New Jersey’s third period goal with two of their own. John Tavares registered his fourth career hat trick. This is the final game of a nine game stretch in which the Islanders played all of their games in the NJ/NY area. This is the first of four matchups between the division rivals.
Between the Pipes: Evgeni Nabokov (6-5-1, 2.81 GAA, .906 SV%) – Nabokov was in net for each of the Islanders’ last two games. He was stellar as he had 66 saves on 70 shots (.943 SV%) in 124:49 of ice time. In 14 career games against the orange and black, the Russian netminder is 8-3-2 with a 2.49 GAA and a .910 SV% with two shutouts.
Puck drop is slate for 1:00 pm. The game can be seen on Comcast Sportsnet and heard on 97.5 The Fanatic.
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