Philadelphia Flyers (12-8-1, 25 pts) at New York Islanders (9-8-7, 25 pts)
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - 7:00 PM EST - Uniondale, NY
TV: CSN Philly HD, Yahoo! Online
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 205
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Lighthouse Hockey
Tonight, this hell of a road trip will finally be over. But before we can all breathe a sigh of relief, the Flyers will have to beat the Islanders tonight on Long Island. With a loss tonight, I will start to worry. Three straight losses out West are understandable. Not acceptable, but understandable. Making that four losses against a team that the Flyers are clearly superior than is not acceptable. It's not a must win tonight, but it's as close as you can get in the month of November.
For one, a loss tonight would make that in-superior hockey team top us in the standings. That's right, the Islanders are currently tied with us in the Eastern Conference with 25 points, but as their 9-8-7 record shows, they're being successful by having a penchant for getting games to overtime.
A major key in the Isles' relative success has been rookie phenom John Tavares. He's living up to the hype that has surrounded him since he broke onto the scene as a pimple-faced teenager, and now that he's a not-pimple-faced teenager, he's among the Isles' team leaders in scoring. But as Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey worried last night on BSH Radio and again today on his site, Tavares might not be as successful against the Flyers and Chris Pronger.
"But I'm more worried," Dominik wrote, "about Chris Pronger simply being physically dominant around the Flyers net -- John Tavares's workshop -- and using his long reach to disrupt any moves or shots Tavares tries." Outside of Tavares, the Flyers have Matt Moulson, Jeff Tambellini, and Kyle Okposo to worry about up front. But for the most part, the Islanders are a one-line team and their offense can be limited.
They've allowed 74 goals in 24 games so far this season, compared to the 59 allowed by Philadelphia in 21 games, so they are certainly vulnerable on defense. The Flyers are pretty hobbled in the scoring department, as we well know. Danny Briere will sit this one out due to suspension, and Darroll Powe and Blair Betts are still out as well. The good news? Arron Asham is back tonight. David Laliberte has been sent back to the Phantoms, so it looks as though Riley Cote will get to play hockey tonight.
The big news, though, is that the Flyers will see Martin Biron for the first time since casting him aside this offseason. Marty has basically been pushed into a backup role by Dwayne Roloson, who Yahoo! apparently thinks is playing tonight. It'll be Marty, but we wont get to see a rematch of Emery vs Biron's little fisticuffs match.
Brian Boucher will go for the Flyers tonight, and he earned it, in my humble opinion. Emery looked terrible against Colorado and pretty unimpressive against Phoenix as well. He's simply hit a wall and needs a rest, and Boucher has earned some time with his performance in relief against the Avs and even against Los Angeles last week. There's no goalie controversy, of course, but Emery needs a little rest. He'll get it tonight.
After the jump, we'll ask a few questions to be answered tonight.
Questions To Answer
- Can Pronger and Matt Carle shut down Tavares and the Isles' top-line?
- Will the Flyers be able to take advantage of knowing Martin Biron's weaknesses?
- The Isles take 4.25 minor penalties per game, on average. That's about middle of the pack in the league, but the Flyers PP should get some chances tonight. Can they take advantage against a PK that's also average?
- Is Kimmo Timonen hurt? He didn't play in the third on Monday night, but the Flyers haven't said anything about his absence. Any indications tonight that something is wrong?
- Ice time for Riley Cote?
Tonight's game will be broadcast locally on CSN Philly. Listen on 610 WIP, and if you're not in the Philadelphia or New York markets, watch live online -- for free -- from Yahoo! (link above). As always, join us here for the conversation, and LET'S GO FLYERS!