Kind of a "what's everybody else saying" version of gameday tonight, as it's finals week and I have studying to do. But I'll return after the game with a full TMA post, for sure.
What to Watch For: Bill Meltzer thinks we should keep an eye on the special teams tonight, as the Flyers greatly have the edge. From Hockeybuzz.com:
The special teams advantage, as usual, is in the Flyers' favor heading into the game. Philly's power play has been outstanding at home this season, connecting at a 31.6% rate. The Isles, meanwhile, are 28th in road penalty killing. The Flyers' penalty kill is fifth in the NHL (both home and road), while the Islanders power play is 15th overall but seventh on the road (22%). The Isles have already seen this season what a threat the Flyers' PK units are to score shorthanded goals.
Bill Guerin has like a million career goals against the Flyers. The O&B need to keep an eye on him.
Scouting the Enemy: For a more in-depth perspective on the Isles, check out Lighthouse Hockey's preview of today's game. I give you a quote:
The team isn't playing with the same zing. Granted, there are injuries to some of those young excitable parts -- Frans Nielsen's injury perhaps even more damaging to the team's look than Kyle Okposo's. But the reality is the Islanders have not sustained the forecheck Gordon seeks for several games now (Atlanta doesn't count, not when you lose 5-1). They've dropped 3 in a row, and 5 of 6.
But tonight must be different. I implore them...
Between The Pipes: Martin Biron returns to the net for the Flyers. A good outing tonight means we forget about the point he cost us against Jersey last Thursday. You can do it, Marty.
Joey MacDonald is in net for the second straight night for the Isles. Coach Scott Gordon isn't concerned with MacDonald getting overworked, though. From Newsday:
The Isles play four road games in six nights this week, but Gordon said he isn't ready to commit to giving backup Yann Danis a start. "Ricky's coming back, and from my standpoint, if Joey is playing well, I'm going to take advantage of it for our team," Gordon said. "The way I look at it, when Ricky gets back and is playing well, Joey's going to have plenty of bench time. I want to make the most of a guy I feel is playing strongly."
Questions to Answer: I'm stealing this idea from the fellas over at Hockey Wilderness, a Minnesota Wild blog, because it's just such a good idea. Hats off to them.
1. Can the Flyers score at even strength?
2. Can Marty bounce back and have a strong game after a weak perfomance in his last outing?
3. Will Richards and Gagne score shorthanded, AGAIN?
4. Was moving Lupul onto the Carter/Hartnell line a good idea?
These questions will be answered following the game.
Injury Report: Matt Carle is still out. Holmgren updated his status today by saying he "had an MRI done today which was negative" and that "he remains day-to-day with an upper body injury. We are hopeful that the anti-inflammatory medicine he has been taking will bring relief soon" [On The Fly, flyers.nhl.com].
For the Isles, Bruno Gervais is on the IR with a leg injury. Kyle Okposo is DTD with a sprained right wrist. Frans Neilsen is on the IR with multiple leg injuries. Mike Comrie is on the IR with a hip injury, and starting goalie Rick DiPietro is still on the shelf thanks to knee surgery.
Milestone Watch: Credit for the Milestone Watch goes to chaosof99 from HFBoards. Milestones possible in tonight's game include: Danny Briere and Mike Knuble each need two goals to reach 200 in their careers. Knuble is also one point away from 400 career points. Marty Biron needs one more shutout to notch 25 in his career.
Islanders forward Doug Weight is six points away from 1,000 in his career.
Hot Off The Presses: Wayne Fish of phillyburbs.com talks about the Flyers special teams abilities. Ed Moran of the Daily News looks at the even strength play that has been atrocious lately. Tim Panaccio chronicles Matt Carle's injury in his weekly report at CSNPhilly.com. From the Island, Greg Logan of Newsday talks about goalie Joey MacDonald and his performance since Rick DiPietro went down to injury
Behind Enemy Lines: Lighthouse Hockey
Today in Flyers/Isles History: The Flyers and Isles have never played on this date. But uh, it's Petr Nedved's birthday today? He's 37.
Let's Go Flyers!