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Flyers kick off second round with Game 1 against Islanders

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New series, clean slate?

Heather Barry / SB Nation

The second round is upon us! The Flyers took care of business in six games to get through the Montreal Canadiens and they’re hoping to keep that momentum rolling into this series against the New York Islanders. It wasn’t always pretty for the Flyers, and we’re hoping that all of that has served as a learning experience and that the Flyers can play this one a little smarter.

They’ll have another tough defensive team to deal with, and you may remember, the Islanders were able to dispatch of the Washington Capitals in just five games in the first round. They were playing some good hockey, and will figure to be a formidable opponent, still. So we’ll see how this one looks as we get rolling.

Three players to watch

1. Shayne Gostisbehere

This is sort of coming on two levels, in that, first and foremost, we’re watching to see if Gostisbehere is going to still be in the lineup for Game 1. He had a pretty stellar Game 6 of the Montreal series, coming into the lineup while Matt Niskanen was suspended, and he really did well to make his case for remaining in the lineup, going forward.

And, if he does remain in the lineup, we’ll be looking to see if he can find some consistency in his game. He played a really well rounded game last time out, bringing some of that signature dynamic offensive play, but also making some really great defensive plays without the puck. If that’s the Gostisbehere that’s primed to show up for the rest of the playoffs, that’s going to be a serious asset for the Flyers to have.

2. Claude Giroux

Disclaimer: Giroux has not been playing poorly throughout the post-season. He hasn’t been playing poorly and I don’t want to go there. He still has four points in nine games (all assists, three primary), and has been looking better over the last couple of games, and the top line and power play have both gotten going. That said, we still expect a little bit more from him in terms of production, and we’re still waiting for him to pick up his first goal of the playoffs. Offense shouldn’t figure to be quite as stingy as it was in our last series, so there should be more opportunities for that to finally happen. Things seem close to breaking open for Giroux, and we’re keeping our eyes peeled, waiting for that to happen.

3. Carter Hart

Overall, Hart had a strong showing in the first round, and seemingly with the full trust of the coaching staff, he’ll be leaned on again to come up big for his team. He’ll figure to have a larger workload—this Islanders team does have some players capable generating creative and dangerous offensive plays, after all—but given what he was able to do to date, we feel pretty good about his ability handle the Islanders in this series. But as we go deeper into the playoffs, obviously the games will only keep getting more difficult, so we’ll be keeping an eye on Hart to see how he responds.

Two big questions

1. Can the power play keep rolling?

Over the last couple of games, the power play has really seemed to be picking up steam. They picked up a couple of goals in Game 5, and while they were held off the board in Game 6, Kevin Hayes’s goal only happened because of setup work while they were still on the man-advantage. They’re doing much better to generate chances, and it’s a night and day difference from how they looked to start the series. They seem to be trending in the right direction, and we’re hoping that they can keep that momentum rolling into this series.

2. Tone check?

In some ways, we’re expecting a lot of the same from this series as we got from the last, with the Islanders playing a somewhat similar defensive system. But we also saw in their series against the Capitals that this system did leave them some room to create offensively, so there may well be room to create more chances. But this game, for us as well as the players, is going to be a chance to sort of feel things out and get a sense of what this series is going to feel like.

Which is all to say that we want to know if we’re going to be bored again.

Pucks drops at 7:00 tonight, and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.

Forwards

Raffl - Couturier - Voracek

Farabee - Hayes - Konecny

van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Laughton

Pitlick - Thompson - Grant

Defensemen

Provorov - Niskanen

Sanheim - Myers

Gostisbehere - Braun

Goalies

Hart

(Elliott)


Ahead of puck drop check out our pregame pod with Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey! Dan gave us some insight into the Isles win over the Capitals and what the Flyers can expect from Barry Trotz and his hockey boys.