Well folks, if this wasn’t the eulogy, consider it the last rites: the 2016-17 New York Islanders may not be dead yet (mathematically) but ain’t no way they’re coming back from this.
Thomas Hickey keeps getting healthy scratched for some reason, though it’s possible he’s still nursing the injury that kept him out a couple weeks back in January. Still, if Doug Weight feels Dennis Seidenberg is a better option, there’s an issue. Scott Mayfield sat again while Adam Pelech stayed in.
But the big news on ‘D:’ the return of Johnny Boychuk. He took Hickey’s spot, and with his return, Weight trotted him out with Nick Leddy, while Calvin de Haan stuck with Travis Hamonic.
Shane Prince remained out, Alan Quine remained in. As did Stephen Gionta. Thomas Greiss faced off against Steve Mason.
First Period: Haha wow
Five goals in the first period. Four goals in the first 9:19. Your goal scorers are Dale Weise, Sean Couturier, Radko Gudas, Jordan Weal, and Wayne Simmonds on a fluky pinball-type goal off him and then Boychuk. To quote Forrest Gump: “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Well, not really. After the third goal, which Weight unsuccessfully challenged for goaltender interference, Greiss was pulled and Hamonic fought Weise in order to provide sparks - which, as Arthur Staple notes on Twitter, shouldn’t be needed in this kind of game - but it only led to another goal for Philadelphia.
Apparently the #Isles needed something to charge them up in this biggest game of the year.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 30, 2017
Joshua Ho-Sang also accidentally got his stick caught up in the visor of Claude Giroux. Scary moment, but he returned in time for Simmonds’ goal.
Second Period: Lots of offense, only one goal
Happy moment for Cal Clutterbuck, who had been sitting on 99 career goals since December. He was able to put home a rebound from de Haan’s shot from the corner for the milestone.
That goal was part of some serious sustained offensive pressure from the Isles, but probably nothing more than score effects. They had a pretty ugly power play chance late in the period and got a few chances after it ended, but the score held at 5-1 despite the Islanders outshooting the Flyers 38-10 at 5v5, 22-3 in shots-on-goal (according to naturalstattrick.com).
Third Period: Just not good enough
Only 40 seconds into the period, with two players from each team in the box from a scrum as the second ended, a blast from the point from de Haan sailed over the net and off the backboards right to Jason Chimera to clean up the mess down low.
They continued to press and gained a power play chance, and Anders Lee had a wide-open chance point blank set up by Ho-Sang, but they couldn’t convert.
Andrew Ladd got his 21st of the season in a strange manner; the shot came from the point but I don’t know if he took it or tipped it. They would pull their goalie after an icing with less than two minutes, but only got one meek chance before the Flyers went back the other way for the game-sealing (and season-sealing) empty-netter.
Quick Thoughts/What’s Next: Break out the “Taps”
Perhaps some players who appear to be playing hurt will get shut down. If they are playing hurt, they should probably take a seat for the rest of the year and prepare for next year. Doug Weight sounded dejected in his post-gamer - and also rightfully pissed at Gudas, who tried to take out Ho-Sang’s legs with either a hip check or a knee-on-knee.
Bright side (if there is one): at least we can officially stop stressing about their gameplay until October!
It’s a shame, but six points out with six games left (the Bruins won tonight) is almost certainly insurmountable. Was fun while it lasted, for sure. Given they were in 30th place as recently as January (I believe), it was pretty miraculous they were actually in a playoff spot at one point down the stretch.
Which makes this collapse all the more painful. Felt like the proverbial “team of destiny” for a little bit, but the numbers never indicated what they were doing was sustainable, and it caught up with them down the stretch. Hopefully the bottom falling out leads to some significant changes in the front office and behind the bench. The on-ice personnel could use a bit of an upgrade, too.