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Preview: New York state of mind

Photo Credit: Heather Barry

The game: 7:00 p.m. EDT on NBC Sports Philadelphia and 97.5 The Fanatic.

After a lackluster loss to Montreal on Thursday night and a “drubbing” according to John Tortorella at the hands of the lowly Chicago Blackhawks, the Flyers find themselves still in a playoff spot but with a far less firmer grip than two games ago. The upside is they still control their own destiny as they have two points more than the Detroit Red Wings with one more game played than Detroit. Another plus is they have more regulation wins than Detroit which would give them the wild card spot in the event of a tie.

The Islanders come in tonight’s game with 77 points and 73 games played, so basically they need a regulation win to keep hope alive. This situation could even work into the Flyers favor if New York pull a Minnesota Wild ploy and try to get the two points by pulling the goalie in regulation or in overtime. Nothing is a given with two weeks left. So it’s important the Flyers at the very least put up some effort and attempt to put in the work they certainly didn’t on Saturday night. As much of a must win as any of the last two or next six games are concerned.

Players to watch

Bo Horvat

Not the leading Islanders point-getter but tied for the lead in goals with Brock Nelson with 29, Bo Horvat is one of a handful of Islanders to keep under wraps. Horvat also has nine power play goals, six game winners and three in overtime. Needless to say he’s one of New York’s best and most clutch forwards. Fortunately for the Flyers he hasn’t picked them apart, scoring just one goal with seven assists in 18 games (thanks statmuse). He has yet to score against Philadelphia as an Islander and for Flyers fans let’s hope that continues for another game.

Nick Seeler

The Flyers for three-quarters of the season were near the top of the league’s penalty kill, especially considering the short-handed goals almost negating the goals allowed down a man. Sadly, since March 3, the highly effective unit has fallen off a cliff with a staggeringly poor 67.6 per cent efficiency. It’s no surprise Sean Walker’s trade was a major reason but so was Nick Seeler’s injury.

It’s crucial for Seeler, who made his return from injury on Saturday night, to get back to being an effective penalty killer with whoever his partner might be. Seeler has to play a crucial, minutes-eating role down this stretch with both Travis Sanheim and Cam York “running on fumes” according to John Tortorella. Seeler’s presence could make the difference between still being in the running a week from now or falling out of the playoff picture entirely.

Owen Tippett

He was hot, he’s been cold and he’s had goals in two of his last three games. It’s vital Owen Tippett finds that hot streak again as soon as possible. Currently with 27 goals, Tippett ending up with over 30 goals would be another huge plus in getting the Flyers to the post-season. The Flyers are 16-8 in terms of wins and losses when Tippett scores. He also has yet to get a hat trick this season.

Although the power play is probably a lost cause now, it would be huge if somehow Tippett started getting hot with the Flyers on the man advantage. Otherwise, maybe Tortorella should seriously consider having a Flyers skater take an offsetting or matching penalty to avoid the power play killing any momentum.

Projected lineups

Philadelphia Flyers

Tyson Foerster — Sean Couturier — Travis Konecny
Owen Tippett — Morgan Frost — Cam Atkinson
Noah Cates — Ryan Poehling — Garnet Hathaway
Nic Deslauriers — Scott Laughton — Joel Farabee

Cam York — Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler — Jamie Drysdale
Egor Zamula — Erik Johnson

Sam Ersson
(Ivan Fedotov)

New York Islanders

Casey Cizikas — Brock Nelson — Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee — Matthew Barzal — Hudson Fasching
Pierre Engvall — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Bo Horvat
Matt Martin — Kyle MacLean — Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech — Noah Dobson
Mike Reilly — Ryan Pulock
Alexander Romanov — Robert Bortuzzo

Ilya Sorokin
(Semyon Varlamov)

Gameday tunes

May the line of shots be on goal……

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