Claude Giroux was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2006 and for the first time since that time, he will not be a member of the Flyers organization. It really does feel like a new era for the franchise and quite honestly the city. Whether that era will be a positive experience or another failure remains to be seen.
Regardless, it will all begin Sunday afternoon when the New York Islanders visit the Wells Fargo Center for a matinee game. The Islanders are 26-24-9 this season and have been well out of the playoffs for a majority of the season, much like the Flyers. The Islanders had their own share of problems early this season, including a number of Covid cases and having to play their first 13 games on the road while their new stadium was finished being built.
The Islanders have been hot of late however, having gained at least one point in their last six games. They will be playing the second leg of a back to back after defeating the Dallas Stars 4-2 Saturday afternoon. The Islanders were led by Brock Nelsons hat trick and in goal, Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves to earn the win.
The Flyers meanwhile will be looking to get back in the win column after dropping their last game to Ottawa Senators. It was a pretty lackluster effort from the team which was not surprising given everything that transpired the previous 24 hours. Nonetheless, the Flyers will have to be much better today if they want any chance of coming away with a victory.
Flyers Projected Lineup
James van Riemsdyk-Derrick Brassard-Cam Atkinson
Joel Farabee-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Morgan Frost-Owen Tippett
Max Willman-Patrick Brown-Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov-Cam York
Rasmus Ristolainen-Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler-Keith Yandle
*Justin Braun will not be in lineup as the Flyers are working on a trade involving him.
Islanders Projected Lineup
Anders Lee-Brock Nelson-Anthony Beauvillier
Zach Parise-Matthew Barzal-Oliver Wahlstrom
Josh Bailey-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Kyle Palmieri
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Zdeno Chara- Noah Dobson
Andy Greene-Scott Mayfield
What to Watch for
Flyers fan and players alike will be looking for someone to step up and fill the huge void left in the lineup. A lot of those eyes will fall on young players such as Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny. Veterans such as Cam Atkinson and Kevin Hayes will also be expected to elevate their game. It will be interesting to watch the rest of the season and see who will step up the challenge and become the new face of the franchise.
With that being said Owen Tippett is expected to be in the lineup, wearing #74, for the Flyers this afternoon, barring any issues. It is not certain where he will slot into the lineup but the former 10th overall pick will have all eyes in the Wells Fargo Center on him when he steps on the ice. Tippett has six goals and eight assist for 14 points in 42 NHL games this season. He is 6-1 207 pounds and will be expected to add some power and speed to this team. It will be tough for him to make an immediate impact given the fact that he has not even been a Flyer for 24 hours, but it will still be exciting for fans to see how he develops in the last month of the season.
Every time Matthew Barzal is on the ice it feels like he makes something happen. His ability to hold on to possession in tight quarters and patience when searching of the right pass combine to make him one of the most fun players to watch in the league. He leads the Islanders with in points with 40 in 50 games so far this season. Especially keep an eye on him and Brock Nelson when the Islanders go on the power play.
Anders Lee had been red hot lately having scored 11 points, including nine goals, in his last seven games. The Islanders captain is really starting to look like the player he once was a year after his knee injury. Look for him to provide a good net front presence and his nice hands when he receives the puck in tight around the blue paint.
As always with a Barry Trotz coached team the Islanders will be physical and tough to play against on the back end. Despite their record the Islanders rank sixth in the league in both goals against, giving up just 2.7 per game, and penalty kill percentage at 83.1%. The Islanders rarely have defensive breakdowns so the Flyers will need to get bodies in front of the net and try to take advantage of rebounds and loose pucks.