The Flyers are in a stage of mediocrity and no one can truly grasp what stage the Islanders are in (the Isles are currently in the playoffs and the Flyers are not). As a writer for Drive4Five, I have reviewed the Islanders through a microscope, looking for things the common fan would not. Inconsistent goaltending and sloppy defense at times have caused our beloved Isles to not be able to get over the hump. Whenever the Isles go on a winning streak or beat tough teams, they lose in disappointing fashion. I have no idea what to think of this team, but as a fan, I am more optimistic than in years past.
A Look at the Flyers
The Flyers are currently 8-9-4 (20 points in 21 games) and they are coming off of a 5-2 loss vs. Vancouver. Their core consists of Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, etc. Most of their headliners are former stars on the back ends of their careers. Voracek and Simmonds are still productive players, yet their output has hindered over the past couple of seasons. The team is in somewhat of a rebuild mode, not completely tanking or trusting the process (Go Sixers). They were lucky coming in second in the past draft lottery, selecting Nolan Patrick, who has 4 points in 12 games, which is somewhat discouraging based on the hype surrounding him. The Flyers must commit to drafting young studs to try and bring themselves back to the glory days of the Broadstreet Bullies, or even to when they reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.
A Look at the Islanders
At the moment, the Islanders are 11-7-2 (24 points in 20 games) and in the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Last Sunday, the Isles lost 4-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes. Many hockey experts believed the Islanders were starting to turn the corner and make a run for the division lead, and hopefully, they can get back to the winning track. To win, the Islanders will have to score goals early. The Flyers are eighth in the league in goals against averages (2.7 goals per game) and 24th in penalty kill percentage (77.8 percent). With something I never thought I would say, the Islanders are second in the league in goals scored per game with 3.6. Young talent such as Mathew Barzal and Josh Ho-Sang have shown their offensive prowess; each has an ability to create that only all-stars can achieve. The Hockey News, Sporting News, Sportsnet, NHL.com, ESPN, Bleacher Report, and TSN have all put Barzal in their top five of players to look out for when awarding the Calder Trophy (an annual award given out to the best rookie). Anders Lee and Josh Bailey seem to have reached the next level in their games, while the stars (Nick Leddy and John Tavares) are playing to their abilities. In order to win against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Islanders must get strong performances from their bottom six defensemen, give up less than four goals, and be able to capitalize on the power play (probably the main factor as to why the Islanders lost to the Hurricanes).
Player to Watch: Mat Barzal
Mat Barzal is a superstar. When the Flyers top lines are worrying about John Tavares, look for Mat Barzal to explode, scoring a goal and notching an assist in a big win.
Prediction: 3-1 Islanders
Islanders Goals by Casey Cizikas, Mat Barzal, and Ryan Pulock
Flyers Goal by Shayne Gostisbhere
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