The Flyers played the Islanders for the third-straight day last night, and for the second of the three the orange and the black came out victorious. This time it was a dominant, 5-1 win over the Islanders in Brooklyn, where the Islanders play some of their games, but then also a bunch of them out on Long Island.
That’s weird, these aren’t. Here are five things we learned from the Flyers’ latest preseason win over the Islanders.
Stolarz steals the night
It was supposed to be Alex Lyon’s night, but it quickly turned into Anthony Stolarz’ night after Lyon suffered a lower-body injury in warm ups. The hulking goalie made the most of the extra work with a masterful game overall in making 31 saves on 32 shots to record the win.
He was especially good early in the first period, making a big save on Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal on a partial breakaway. Stolarz got the initial shot and then scrambled to get back to position to get a piece of a follow-up chance as well.
Later in the period he got Barzal again, this time a backhand attempt that he wasn’t fooled on as Barzal took the cap off the Flyers’ defense to the outside again. Both stops on Barzal were impressive as Stolarz was positionally sound and used his frame to take away most of the shooting room for Barzal coming in on the angle.
Stolarz was busy most of the night, but was at his best in that first period and against a very dangerous NHL weapon in Barzal for the Islanders.
Besides dropping his stick three or four times, the only mistake Stolarz made on the night was on the Islanders’ lone goal in the second. The Flyers were chasing the play with a long shift and a delayed call coming and Stolarz was beat by a one-timer from the above the right circle by David Quenneville. It’s not the worst goal you’ll ever see, but it’s a distance try that got Stolie short-side on what ended up being a slow developing passing play. He’d like to have that one back for sure, but it was more or less a blip in an otherwise stellar evening.
Quenneville ties the game up at 1. pic.twitter.com/W4UmlD6atV— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 19, 2018
It’s a Phantoms world, we’re just living in it
It was a strong night for players likely headed to Lehigh Valley sooner rather than later, that’s for sure. James de Haas, Carsen Twarynski, Phil Varone, and Danick Martel all scored for the Flyers in the win, and all four will likely be doing so for the Phantoms this season.
De Haas started the scoring on a seeing-eye point shot and Twarynski got the second on a wicked wrist shot to beat Robin Lehner at the 12:56 mark of the second period. He was hanging around the Islanders’ blue line, took a T.J. Brennan pass and skated into the zone before ripping a shot off the post and in past the veteran netminder. For a player who was sent back for an overage season in juniors a year ago, it’s been a good camp for Twarynski and a nice looking finish on this goal.
Carsen Twarynski snipe! 2-1 Flyers! pic.twitter.com/fV3MaAYTF0— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 19, 2018
Phil Varone hopped off the bench as an extra attacker, skated in and picked his spot past Lehner at the 15:38 mark to push the Flyers’ edge to 3-1. It was a smooth finish from the veteran, who showed some nice patience in waiting for a good shooting lane and then a lethally placed wrist shot.
While this group of guys will spend most of their time in the AHL this year, it’s nice to see a young player in Twarynski developing and two veterans in Varone and Martel that could step in and play with the big club in a pinch.
Patchwork defense makes due
Missing the likes of Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, and Philippe Myers, the Flyers were just fine on Tuesday night thanks to some nice work by a strange collection to say the least.
Christian Folin was the only one who figures to see much regular NHL time, but T.J. Brennan has been an AHL all-star, and looked ever bit the part of an NHL regular with three helpers on the night while leading the Flyers in ice-time. Both Brennan and Mark Friedman were on the ice for three Flyers goals in the win.
Collectively they did well as a group to contain a more NHL-heavy Islanders lineup, one that included the dangerous Mathew Barzal and some other NHL stalwarts who are known to make life tough on opposing defenses. At one point Cal Clutterbuck tried to lay out Brennan, but the it was Clutterbuck who was left without his stick and bloodied on the ice to end a period.
*Technically* Didn’t give up a power play goal
So the Islanders’ goal did come on a delayed penalty, a 6-on-5 to be exact, but the Flyers did kill off the lone power play they did face in the game. That’s back-to-back games without surrendering a power play goal, with very different lineups for the Flyers. The sample size is too small to make much of, but it’s progress for a team that badly needs to change its culture of penalty killing.
The Flyers were a playoff team a year ago being dragged down by a bottom-five penalty klll. With a more consistent penalty kill the Flyers could take a step into being a contender, even with much of the same roster back. That starts with having pride killing penalties, and they look like they’re committed to it even during the largely meaningless preseason.
Jori Lehtera scored, lol
In preseason hockey, anything can happen. Like nights when Jori Lehtera scores goals just like former Islanders great John Tavares, who now doesn’t play for the Islanders.
Lehtera, the man who had just three goals in 62 games last season was able to find the score sheet in this one. Not only that, but the veteran had a pretty solid game overall. That’s good considering that Lehtera is almost a near certainty to make the opening night roster and play a significant amount of games for the Flyers again this year.
Noted goal-scorer Jori Lehtera! pic.twitter.com/vcFZCjTC9H— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 19, 2018
Most of this was to highlight the fine work from Brennan to create offense on the play, but look at that celly from Lehtera. It’s almost like he had zero idea that backhand attempt would ever have a chance to make it to the back of the net.
Lehtera’s delayed celebration reminded me that while hockey is back, it’s also the preseason and sometimes we’re treated to games like this. Games against the Islanders for the 40th-straight night and with the most awkward website broadcast team ever assembled.