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Islanders vs. Flyers: Games mean something again

Went to an Isles-Flyers game and a playoff race broke out?

Islanders vs. Flyers Feb. 9, 2017
Battling an old captain.
Kate Frese / SB Nation

The New York Islanders visit the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night and it...means something?

The Flyers have fallen back to earth — rather dramatically — and the Islanders have risen from the dead under interim coach Doug Weight. All that means is the Isles are part of a pack of eight — yes, eight — parity-league-enabled teams in the East’s bottom half who are within five points or less of the Flyers for the second wild card spot.

With a regulation win, the Islanders would pull to just one point behind the Flyers, who have played three more games.

Lineup Notes: No Clutter, hold the Ham

Cal Clutterbuck and Travis Hamonic remain your key injuries. Thomas Greiss starts in goal behind the same lineup that treated us to heart-attack goalfests through the weekend.

Ghost Is Be Back

Two big lineup items for the Flyers. First is the foot/ankle “lower body” injury to Travis Knoecny, which will keep him out four to six weeks.

Second is the return of cult hero Shayne Gostisbehere, the offensive defenseman who was scratched for three games much to the chagrin of many Flyers fans.

Coach David Hakstol had an interesting explanation for that, via Broad Street Hockey:

“To be honest with you, he’s been out of the lineup now and has had an opportunity for four or five days to have some great work days. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of it that way.” “For a young player to have practice time in this league, for which there is none -- it’s really tough for veteran players to hold their confidence, to keep their sharpness, to be where they need to be day-in and day-out without practice time. It’s really difficult for a young player to be able to do that when you’re out of the lineup for maybe one game, you don’t make a ton of progress. That’s more of a wake-up call. But right now I can tell you this, Ghost has had three or four great work days.

A little more on the matter was speculated by Elliotte Friedman, who was quoting Stars GM Jim Nill talking about John Klingberg, but he (Friedman) said it reminded him of the Gostisbehere situation:

You have success early,” Nill said Tuesday, “and teams adjust to you. This is a smart league.”

The Islanders have yet to learn how to adjust to Gostisbehere. He set up the overtime winner when these teams last met, Doug Weight’s first loss as head coach.

Watch on NBC Sports

This one is on NBC Sports, including their streaming option.

Catch more Flyers coverage at Broad Street Hockey.

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here. (Sorry for the delay in getting those in the morning thread. Those responsible have been promoted.)