GAME PREVIEW: Flyers vs. New York Islanders

The Game: Fresh off a huge victory Sunday night, and a three day lay-off, the Philadelphia Flyers return to action tonight on Long Island for their third straight game against an Atlantic Division opponent, as they take on the New York Islanders.

In the past three games, the Flyers have started incredibly strong, but it wasn’t until Sunday’s 5-1 win over New Jersey that the team really got their collective heads together and played a full 60 minutes to win a very important hockey game. This evening, they’ll try to duplicate that effort against an Islanders team that is 13th in the Eastern Conference and fifth in the Flyers’ native Atlantic Division.  The Islanders enter tonight’s contest a solid 5-3-2 in their last ten games, while the Flyers – although coming off a victory – have been dreadful in their last ten match-ups, going 3-5-2.  It’ll be up to the Flyers to channel their energy and desperation from Sunday night and put into play this evening.  There couldn’t be a better time for it, as the Flyers are as fresh as they possibly can be with the three-day lay off.

The Story: It’s safe to say that up until this game in recent memory the Flyers have simply been the Islanders’ Daddy.  The Orange and Black have taken fifteen straight contests from their Long Island rivals, and have overpowered them quite often in the process.  However, it’s also safe to say that this game is going to be quite a different story, because while the Flyers are desperate to make the playoffs and should play that way, the Islanders are ever more desperate to not lose number sixteen in a row to the Flyers and salvage one game in this season series.  Of course, tonight’s game became even more important because of last night’s Montreal regulation loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.  With the Flyers having a game in hand on the Habs before the two teams meet in Philly tomorrow night, this game could be crucial if the Flyers are wanting a chance to move up to the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed.  In fact, a victory tonight would put them at the number six spot in the East, and drop the Canadiens and Bruins to numbers seven and eight respectively.  With that being said, the Flyers can also ill-afford to look ahead to the showdown at the Wachovia Center tomorrow, because tonight’s two points are absolutely imperative for the Orange and Black to get.  A win tonight would be a huge confidence boost heading into tomorrow.

Who to Watch on the Islanders: Mark Streit, Defenseman

Streit is as dangerous as they come on the powerplay

The Islanders prized free-agent signing a year ago, Streit has played exceptionally well on the New York blue-line, despite not having the best talent in the world surrounding him on a daily basis.  This season, Streit has eleven goals and 32 assists for 43 points and has done so seemingly without being noticed by much of the NHL.  He captained the Swiss national team at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and his skills were clearly evident against some of the top forwards in the country, as the Swiss took on the United States twice, as well as the Canadians once.  However, Streit is truly the “X”-factor tonight, for one reason: the power play.  The Flyers are the most penalized team in the NHL and even though they don’t have Daniel Carcillo in the line-up tonight as the winger begins to serve a two-game suspension, they still will take their fair share of penalties.  Streit is one of the best power-play quarterbacks from the point in the NHL today, so expect him to make the Flyers pay if they continue to visit the sin-bin tonight.  He’s got a great shot from the point, and is able to find the slick Islander wingers backdoor for one-timers if given the opportunity.

The Skinny: This is the sixth and final meeting between the Flyers and the Islanders this season.  The Flyers have owned New York, going 5-0-0 against the Islanders this season and have been even more impressive over the string of the last fifteen match-ups between the two teams, as the Orange and Black are undefeated in that time.  However, tonight’s game is the most important game the two teams have played this year and although it’s going to be a difficult one, the Flyers need it.  The Flyers are currently in a tie for the East’s sixth seed with the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, but the Flyers hold the spot because they have the tiebreaker – more victories – than the Canadiens and Bruins do.

Notes: Brian Boucher gets the start again for the Flyers tonight.  While he’s struggled since taking the starting job, he has been successful against the Islanders, going 2-0-0 with a 1.57 GAA this season.  Former Flyer Marty Biron will be in net tonight for New York, relieving Dwayne Roloson who’s gotten much of the work for New York recently.  Dan Carcillo will be out of action tonight as he begins serving his two-game suspension.  He’ll miss tonight’s contest as well as tomorrow’s game against Montreal before returning to action Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings.

Jim Jackson, Bill Clement, and Steve Coates will have the call on Comcast SportsNet from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum as the puck drops at 7 PM EST.

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