The Islanders and Flyers played today’s game at 1:00 p.m. in part to allow many of the NHL’s European fans, some of whom are Islanders fans (and even comment here, thank you for reading!), to catch a game that didn’t require them to adjust their sleep schedules. This game might have put them to bed early, though. Unless they are Islander fans!
[Game Sum | Event Sum | Corsica | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]
The Islanders had been slogging through the neutral zone and were then backed into their own zone for much of the first ten minutes of the game. They managed to hold off Philadelphia long enough to generate some zone time of their own, and were rewarded with the first goal of the game. A point shot via Adam Pelech was tipped by Uncle Leo Komarov, all alone in front of the net, and past goaltender and one-time Islander Michal Neuvirth. The assists for Pelech and Johnny Boychuk, who touched it before Pelech, gave some points to defensemen other than Scott Mayfield.
Reunited, and It Feels Beau Good
Head coach Barry Trotz wanted to try some different combos in his top 6 this season, opting to first separate Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal from Jordan Eberle, and then Beauvillier from Barzal and Eberle. Today, Trotz decided to reunite the second first line from last season in effort to get the pointless Beauvillier going, and it paid immediate dividends.
Barzal forced a turnover down low and the three forwards set up in an ‘L’-formation. Barzal slid it behind himself to Eberle, who went cross-ice toward a streaking Beauvillier, and the 28th overall pick in 2015 got off the schneid. The period ended 2-0 in favor of the Islanders.
The Top 6 Combos Are Good Now, but Philly Avoids a Shutout
Beauvillier-Barzal-Eberle looked good all day, like nothing had changed from last season, but the other line in the top 6 has been gelling splendidly, as well. Anders Lee forced the puck up to Josh Bailey, who entered the zone on a 2-on-1 with Brock Nelson. Bailey waited out Shayne Gostisbehere and Neuvirth before saucer passing it across to Nelson’s side, where a wide open net waited for him.
The game was in great shape to that point, with the Islanders up 3-0 before the halfway point of the game on the road in Philadelphia. But the Flyers got one right back as Beauvillier and Nick Leddy failed to decide who should take the puck in front of Robin Lehner. Jori Lehtera helped make their decision for them, snagging the puck and roofing it over Lehner. It would be the only goal to get past him all afternoon.
Blowing it Open, Brocktober Sty-Lee (I’m sorry, everyone)
When the third period began, the Flyers weren’t out of it yet, only down two goals. But they couldn’t get anything substantial going, even on a power play opportunity created by a soft call against Mayfield for interference. Then, the Islanders finished them off, with three goals in less than three minutes. And the captain had a hand in all of them.
On the first of the period, Lee corralled a puck against the wall and gave it to Pelech for a soft wrister from the middle of the blue line that Neuvirth would probably like to have back. For the second, another individual effort and battle from Lee in the neutral zone pushed the puck up to Nelson, who skated down the short side and patiently dangled around a sliding defender before snapping it over Neuvirth for his second of the afternoon and his team-leading fifth of the year. And then, on a power play, Lee continued the show with a few dangles of his own before beating Neuvirth. The Islanders won 6-1, and the local fans booed the Flyers off the ice.
Thoughts and Feelings
A lovely afternoon match on an extremely rainy day. And it was a good way to step on the necks of a defeated opponent.
I’m happy to finally cover a win.
Don’t get too comfortable; they’re playing the Hurricanes tomorrow in Raleigh at 5:00 p.m.