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New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Home, sweet hope

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In which the Isles hope home ice is the cure for what ails them.

Divisional hockey.
Divisional hockey.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The still-playoff-possible Philadelphia Flyers visit the still-not-secure New York Islanders in Brooklyn tonight, with the Islanders hoping to enjoy home ice and put a winless three-game road trip behind them.

To whatever extent home/road splits matter, the Isles have been good at home...when they've had the opportunity. This will be just their third home game of the month and eighth since February. Their only blemish during that time (6-0-1) was an overtime loss to the Capitals back on Feb. 18.

But visiting them tonight is a very different Flyers franchise: It's a club that held firm to its decision to rebuild and thus not give away any futures for trade deadline upgrades, but it's a squad that is legitimately playing well enough to deserve its current flirtation with a playoff spot.

Chief among their bright spots is Shayne Gostisbehere, who has delivered on the hype after finally being recalled (and after overcoming an injury that spoiled last season).

The Flyers come in just five points behind the Islanders, but both teams need these points not to steal from each other, but for what they will do in their battle with other teams: The Isles are three points (85) behind the Rangers and Penguins (83) for second place (or third) and home ice in the first round of the playoffs; the Flyers are three points behind the Red Wings (83) for the final wild card spot.

Significantly, the Isles and Flyers each have 12 games remaining including tonight, while those other teams have 10. (One of the extra games is the makeup game between these two teams on the final day of the season.)

What do you we make this one a three-point game?

Islanders (38-23-9, 4th/Metro) vs. Flyers (34-24-12, 5th/Metro)
7:30 p.m. EDT | NBC Sports
Brooklyn's [ingloriously sponsored] Center
Broad Street Hockey

Both teams are recent victims of the surging Penguins, though the Isles salvaged a point out of their Pittsburgh encounter while the Flyers were thumped. Regardless, tonight should have a good ol' Patrick Division-style playoff intensity.

The Isles reported that Jack Capuano will dress the same lineup as the 3-0 loss in Dallas, including Thomas Greiss in goal and a certain #37 on defense. I'm all out of words and emotion to expend on the latter.

As noted this morning, this will be John Tavares' 500th game. Relive the memories, and hope he adds better ones.

The Flyers will be riding Steve Mason, because ex-Isle Michal Neuvirth is out for the rest of the regular season.

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