New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers
7 p.m. | MSG+
[some such cable-or-bank] Center | in championship-hangover Philadelphia
With a 7-0 win Tuesday in Atlanta, the Flyers now have a ridiculous 4.0 goals/game average, tops in the league. Half of their 36 goals so far came at 5-on-5 even strength, 10 came on the power play, and an absurd 4 have been shorthanded. Incidentally, the rest of the Patrick Atlantic Division, including the Rangers, sit in the bottom third of the league in goals/game. Hopefully Joey McDonald makes the Flyers conform to our fine division's standards. Failing that, hopefully the city-wide Phillies party took the Flyers out to strange bars at strange hours.
Before the Atlanta mercy-killing, the Flyers snapped out of their six-game winless start to the season by sweeping New Jersey last weekend. They now sit at an enviable (yes, it's come to that) 3-3-3. The goaltending and an injury-depleted blueline has appeared to settle down -- though Fiitty-Niittymaki got the shutout, while Biron still carries a near-4 GAA and .868 sv%. One more offensive note: Their top seven forwards have all but 3 of their 36 goals. Usual suspects Richards, Gagne (boy, is he back), Carter, Briere, Hartnell, Lupul and Knuble are spreading out the bushels of scoring.
Scott Gordon has given his own forward lines a little stir, but if we see the same assignment breakdowns we've seen during this four-game losing streak, it won't matter: the Flyers are poised to punish.
In & Out: On the Flyers side, if young Italian-born Luca Sbisa plays, it will be the 2008 first-rounder's 10th game, meaning he's with the club for good. For the Isles, Andy Sutton makes his season debut, with Jack Hillen demoted to make room. Towering Mitch Fritz may make an enforcer's appearance, a long-craved bone for bloodthirsty fans. Rick DiPietro is still in street clothes.