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Flyers vs. Islanders preview: Fake-.500 approaches?

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The Flyers have a good chance to get points in their seventh straight game tonight against a division rival that's been down a bit lately.

Bruce Bennett

So things have actually been working out alright for the Flyers lately, huh? They've scored points in six straight games (with five of those being wins), they haven't allowed an even-strength goal in two weeks (!), and some guys look to be breaking out of the offensive ruts they'd started the year in. And thanks to the wonders of the Metropolitan Division/Eastern Conference, they open their evening just three points out of a playoff spot.

It'd be nice if they could keep all that up tonight against a team that they really should beat.

New York Islanders (8-12-3, 19) at Philadelphia Flyers (9-10-2, 20)
7 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: TCN, MSG+ | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the New York perspective at Lighthouse Hockey

For real, though, things have been going well for the Flyers lately. The newly-formed third line of Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Steve Downie has been outstanding, and that line was the driving force offensively behind the team's win on Thursday. Claude Giroux's looked more like his old self recently, the Kimmo Timonen-Braydon Coburn pairing has anchored a D that's been at least solid, and the goaltending's been nothing short of excellent.

Some of that will cool off eventually, but hopefully we keep seeing good things tonight, as our opponent is one that the Flyers have historically been quite good against. As our friends at Lighthouse Hockey were kind enough to point out for us, the Flyers are 15-1-2 against the Isles in Philadelphia since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Gosh, that's fun, isn't it? Of course, all three of those losses have been within the last two seasons, so who knows if that really means anything at this point.

The Isles are coming off a game last night, in what can only be described as a tremendous gut punch of a loss to Pittsburgh as Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner with 1:16 left in regulation. Not all was bad for the folks from Long Island, though -- recent big-time trade acquisition Thomas Vanek found his way back into the lineup after missing two weeks, and he put two goals on the board. He, John Tavares, and Kyle Okposo will likely have the privilege of facing off with that aforementioned third line of the Flyers that's been so good lately, so that should be fun to watch.

It's been an interesting year for those Isles so far, with a few forwards who've been outstanding offensively (Tavares, Okposo, and Frans Nielsen), and then a bunch of guys who are kinda OK. The other side of the ice hasn't been as pleasant; the Isles allow the third-most goals per game in the league, thanks largely to goaltending that hasn't been up to snuff.

There's some talent there, for sure, but the team's been on a bit of a slide in November, as they've lost seven of their last nine games and are pointless on their three-game road trip that they'll conclude tonight. Standings in November mean really, really little, but this is a good chance for the Flyers to put a tiny bit more space between themselves and a team they'll probably be fighting with in the standings all season long.

Also, we're obligated to point out that with a win tonight, the Flyers would reach the NHL-defined version of a ".500 record", even though technically they'd still have two more losses than wins. Loser points are the best, guys. But yes, they'd reach 10-10-2 with a win, certainly a nice place to be after being 1-7-0 at this time exactly one month ago.

Steve Mason is your starter for the Flyers. Kevin Poulin is the likely guy in net for the Islanders, going back-to-back for the Isles with Evgeni Nabokov hurt.

Gamethread up around 6. Go Flyers.