We’re right back at it again, folks! The Flyers were able to hold on for an overtime win in their Game 5 on Tuesday, and staved off elimination to force a Game 6. Which means we’re back today and they’re looking for a repeat performance, to stave off elimination once more.
The Flyers played a better game on Tuesday, finally getting more from their offense, and they’re going to need just as much (if not more!) from them tonight. Things may also be getting complicated, as Sean Couturier is questionable for tonight’s game, after taking an apparent lower body injury late in the second period. The Islanders have a similar concern of their own, as Mathew Barzal is also questionable for tonight, after he took a stick to the face in the third period of Game 5, so both sides have some important players as question marks for this game, and may well have some shuffling and adjusting to do, in their potential absence.
Three players to watch
1. Claude Giroux
With the season (still) on the line, and particularly with the concern that Couturier may be absent from this game, it’s going to up to the Flyers’ big names to step up and bring a little extra in relief. Chiefly among this group would be Giroux, and the good news is that he seems to be getting going again. He picked up his first goal of the post-season on Tuesday, as we’ve seen his offensive game continuing to look sharper than it has through some of the earlier games in the bubble. He’s looking sharper, and we’ve seen him step up and put the team on his back in big moments, and is it ever time for that to happen.
2. James van Riemsdyk
We’re sticking to the same train of thought, here. Van Riemsdyk also picked up his first goal of the playoffs on Tuesday, and seemed to be clicking pretty well with his new line. Now, of course it remains to be seen if that look will stick, and that’s depends on if Couturier is able to go, but van Riemsdyk’s game still seems to be trending in the right direction, and they’re going to need him to bring it, as the Flyers hope to avoid elimination. We know he can be a bit of a streaky scorer, but here’s hoping this is the beginning of a hot streak for him.
3. Kevin Hayes
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen Hayes get on the board, and while it isn’t a drought that we’re as concerned about as some of the other big names’, we’d like to see him pick up a goal sooner rather than later. Hayes had a few good chances in Game 5, and it feels like he’s knocking on the door. His line seemed to be clicking, and there was a lot to like about the chances they were generating, even if they weren’t able to close on any of them. But will today be the day he breaks through? We’ll have to see!
Two big questions
1. Can the offense keep clicking?
For the first time in what feels like forever, the Flyers managed to score more than two goals in a single game on Tuesday. It wasn’t always pretty (though, to be fair, sometimes it was), but the Flyers kept their heads down and kept working for their chances, and it served them well. You have to think the Islanders are going to be looking to respond and tighten up their defensive game further, but here’s hoping that, with a couple of their big guns finally breaking through, that this is a good sign for the Flyers’ offense, and they can find some momentum and keep it rolling.
2. Can the Flyers play a full 60 minutes?
The Flyers played a much stronger game on Tuesday, and we saw just how dangerous they can look when they’re keeping their foot on the gas and finally cashing in on their chances. But they didn’t really keep that same intensity up through the third period, and as a result they let the Islanders get back into the game. They could have wrapped that one up in regulation, but they let off the gas, and it almost cost them. And that said, if the Flyers want to play a tidier game, keeping their details managed, and force a Game 7, they’re going to need to show up for the full 60 minutes.
Puck drops at 7:00 tonight, and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier* - Voracek
Farabee - Hayes - Pitlick
van Riemsdyk - Laughton - Konecny
Grant - Thompson - Aube-Kubel
Provorov - Niskanen
Sanheim - Myers
Hagg - Braun