Last Thursday's win against the Rangers was, as we noted in the recap for the game, fairly imperfect and not overly inspiring. The Flyers weren't that good offensively, spent most of the third period after their game-winning goal pinned back in their own end, and relied mostly on solid defensive zone coverage and goaltending to pick up the win. Games in which you score just two goals are generally not the kinds of games you can win on a regular basis (which, as you surely know, is something that could have been said after all nine Flyers games so far this year).
But really, after a 1-7 start, it's tough to complain about a win. And lo and behold, they might just get another one tonight.
Philadelphia Flyers (2-7-0, 4) at New York Islanders (4-3-3, 11)
7 p.m. | Nassau Coliseum | Uniondale, N.Y.
TV: CSN Philly, MSG+ | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the New York perspective at Lighthouse Hockey
And there were some good things that happened on Thursday on top of the win. One of the team's many slumping forwards, Matt Read, finally got things going with a shorthanded tally and an assist on the game-winning score. As mentioned, the defense was good, and Steve Mason was quite solid other than a single rather unfortunate goal against.
But obviously, we'd like to see more. The power play is still more or less an unmitigated disaster, which is unacceptable given the amount of offensive talent on it. The offense as a whole is just not good enough right now, and their historic streak of not scoring more than two goals in a game would reach even more ridiculous levels if they were to miss that mark tonight.
However, they may have a couple of boosts coming tonight. For one, Scott Hartnell will be back in the lineup. He was one of many slumping forwards before his injury he suffered against Phoenix, but he's a legitimate winger and having him back on that second line will help (even if it's at the expense of impressive young forward Tye McGinn, who was sadly sent back to the Phantoms yesterday). And on top of that, they'll be facing an Islanders team missing one of its best defensemen in Lubomir Visnovsky.
So maybe this is the night things change. (You may remember a game last year about a month into the season, when Claude Giroux led the Flyers on their way to beating the Isles senseless. Would be nice if we got a redux of that, no?)
The Islanders are actually coming off quite the win last night, scoring three third-period goals on their way to beating the Penguins in Pittsburgh. We'll see how they handle playing on the second half of a back-to-back, but they've been a team that's been in a lot of high-scoring games so far. They've been good at scoring goals and not so good at preventing them in the early going, so if we're lucky we may be in for a fun one tonight.
The Isles' depth at forward is actually quite good, led of course by recent Hart Trophy finalist John Tavares and also the guy who's actually leading the team in points in Frans Nielsen. There's no doubt the Flyers have played better defensively since Craig Berube took over, but that'll all be put to the test tonight. Like the Flyers, they'll be getting a boost in the form of a player returning, with Michael Grabner back from a two-game suspension.
Steve Mason -- he of the .930 save percentage to begin the season -- will start his fourth straight game in net. Kevin Poulin will go for the Islanders, so maybe the Flyers will make another backup goalie look good tonight like they mostly did against the Rangers on Thursday.
Also of note tonight is Mark Streit's first game this year against the Islanders, the team where he had his most successful years in the NHL. The folks at Lighthouse Hockey wrote up a nice tribute to him, so that's worth a pregame read.
Questions to Answer:
- Anything noteworthy happen to Mark Streit in his return to Long Island?
- Matt Read got off the schneid last Thursday. Any other top-9 forward follow his lead tonight?
- Steve Mason still doing good things?
- Is the power play less abhorrent that it has been on the whole lately?
- Three goals? Like, maybe? Please?
Gamethread up at 6. Go Flyers.