I went to a hockey game and a rugby scrum broke out.
Well, here we go. After a brief and unfulfilling stop at home last night the Islanders road march resumes, their seventh road game in 11, part of 12 on the road out of their first 17 games this season. And of course, Philadelphia in recent years has provided a special
butt-kicking challenge for the Isles. This is our concern, Dude.
New York Islanders (4-4-2) @ Philadelphia Flyers (5-4-1)
7 p.m. | Com-wacho-well-whatever Center | MSG+2+blurry - WRHU 88.7
Looking for a few good goalies: Broad Street Hockey
The Flyers are coming off a fight-filled victory over the Penguins last night, so they just might be in a fist-friendly mood. Alert to Islanders powerplay: Claude Giroux got his third short-handed goal of the year. Lineup notes and various thoughts after the jump.
Due to the back-to-backs and mikb's Real NHL Standings update, this will probably serve as both our pre-game and in-game thread. Depends on comment traffic though.
Maybe after the high of the intra-Pennsylvania rivalry, the Flyers will be low on the old-time hockey appetite tonight. But you never know, and without word one way or the other as of this posting, you'd imagine Trevor Gillies would reappear on the bench and, for brief moments, on the ice too.
- Rick DiPietro starts -- and his pink pads appear ready. There would be something awesome about walking into Philly wearing pink pads and leaving with a victory.
Sergei Bobrovsky played last night for the Flyers (26 saves) and has yet to be used in a back-to-back situation, so you'd expect Brian Boucher tonight.
Milan Jurcina is out with a hamstring injury suffered last night. Bruno Gervais gets to play again -- and in his natural position. (That's defense, in case last night confused you.)
Rob Schremp...was headed back to New York after last night's AHL rehab stint versus Manchester, but haven't seen more than that. Bridgeport doesn't play again until Wednesday, so he wasn't going to stick around there regardless. Tonight may be Matt Martin's chance to stake another claim to convert his emergency recall into something more lasting.
- Speaking of Bridgeport: "Poulin Wall," baby. Came up large in their OT win. [Conn. Post - Fornabaio]
- Nikolay "The Enigma" Zherdev was a healthy scratch last night for the Flyers. So anyone who had Oct. 29 on that, you win the pool. He was replaced by Daniel Carcillo, who is a guy. A guy who played 5:06 and notched a goal -- which has to provide more ammo for his admirers who think he deserves more games/ice time/love/general opportunities at toolery.
- First Goal Five-and-Five: When scoring first, the Isles are 4-1. When not, they're 0-3-2. [h/t Hornick]
The Task at Hand
The natural narrative is that the Islanders only broke their 15-game Flyers Futility spell in the final meeting last season, and Scott Gordon has yet to notch a road win in the Atlantic outside of Madison Square Garden. Some people read a spine or fortitude problem into that, but I'd have to expect there is also a familiarity issue and the challenge of not being able to match lines as well on the road with a weak roster in a tough division. (In other words, it's a concern that bears watching but will move me much more when they fail to do it with a better roster.)
As for the here and now, it's still early, but not as early as it was, so we see the Isles remain powerplay-dependent (last night was just the second game they failed to score, and it cost them). Their 5-on-5 remains poor as they've mixed a constant flow of bodies and injury/suspension replacements into the lineup. There is reason to wonder about the full health of Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau, perhaps Doug Weight and Trent Hunter too (though Hunter had a solid return last night, and Bailey looked much better in his second game back than he did Wednesday in Montreal).
While the Islanders 5-on-5 GF/GA ratio is an ugly 0.65 (better than only the Devils!), the Flyers is even at 1.0. Their powerplay is just 15.6%, but a good PK is functioning at 86% with the aforementioned three shorties by Giroux. If the Isles can draw the Flyers into penalties, then we see strong special teams units battle it out.
No matter what, it should be physical and fun. The Islanders will need to play better than they've played in two weeks. With yet another blueline injury hit, do they have that in them?
Collect your Butch-isms (i.e. Butchery)
We need to start collecting Butchisms -- or Butchery as Quin8722 has named them. Join in and add yours, as we collect the beloved former Isles' funnier moments as a color commentator. (And rec it to keep it around a while.) All in good fun.
- Eric Hornick's "Skinny" numbers look at last night.
- The Times did the Zenon background bit. [via BC FanShot] Includes thoughts from Gordon on his role.
- Islanders Hockey Blog had a couple quotes from Blake Comeau and John Tavares on Nino Niederreiter's departure.
- Rob at THW on last night's loss and Islanders depth.
Botta's notes on tonight, with a bit from a Garth Snow radio interview on the goalies thus far. [Short version: "We have two number ones."]