Game Preview: Flyers vs. Islanders (Game 5)

Story posted September 1, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Jacob Cheris

The Philadelphia Flyers face elimination for the first time this postseason. They are down 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinal to the New York Islanders. Teams that are down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have a 9.3% chance of coming back and winning. If the Islanders win tonight, it would be the first time since 1993 that they have reached the Eastern Conference Final. This would also be the second time in head coach Barry Trotz’s career that he made it past the second round. He did it with the Washington Capitals in 2018 when they went on to win the Stanley Cup.

“Let's look at the task at hand, and the task at hand is that we've got to win one more game," Trotz told Sasha Kandrach of NewYorkIslanders.com. "That last game is the toughest. We're going to have to go and earn it. No one is going to come in the room and give us a game."

The Islanders are playing as a complete team. The offense is coming from all four lines, the defense has been winning loose puck battles and blocking shots, and goaltending has been stellar. The breakout player for the Islanders has been Anthony Beauvillier. The 23-year-old winger leads the Islanders with seven goals this postseason. Other players like Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mathew Barzal, and captain Anders Lee have also produced at an elite level. Ever since being acquired at the trade deadline, Pageau has fit into the Islanders system perfectly. He has a knack for winning faceoffs (55.5%) and is tied with Beauvillier in goals (7). Barzal, meanwhile, is starting to become a 200-foot player by playing smart on both ends of the ice.

Semyon Varlamov will start tonight for the Islanders after Thomas Greiss made 36 saves on Sunday in a 3-2 win. Carter Hart will start for Philadelphia after Brian Elliott played on Sunday. Both Hart and Varlamov have been phenomenal this postseason, keeping their respective teams in close games.

The Flyers are getting little production from their star forwards. Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny have not scored a goal since arriving in the bubble. Giroux not scoring is especially concerning. He is the Flyers captain and their best player. When the leader isn’t scoring, the rest of the team usually follows. Giroux also only has five assists, and Konecny only has four. On a positive note, Kevin Hayes has a hot stick, scoring three goals in his last five games. He scored two goals in Game 2 alone.

The Flyers are also having a tough time putting together a full 60-minute game. So far, the Flyers have outplayed the Islanders in just one period: the second period of Game 4, in which they outshot the Islanders 17-3. Even then, Philadelphia only scored once. Even in Game 2, which they won 4-3 in overtime, the Flyers lost a three-goal lead because they took their foot off the gas.

For Philadelphia, it starts with puck management: Defensive-zone and neutral-zone turnovers against an Islanders team with a very good transition game is not going to lead to success. Philadelphia had nine giveaways on Sunday, and one was especially costly, as it led to Brock Nelson’s ultimately game-deciding goal midway through the second period. Philippe Myers tried to throw the puck up the middle, but it was kept in the zone by Josh Bailey, and he passed it to an open Nelson for the score.

For the Flyers to stay alive for another day, they have to get bodies in front of Varlamov  and score those dirty goals in front of the net while also playing a heavy forecheck and staying committed to it throughout the game.

Game 5 begins at 7 p.m. EST at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

 

Jacob Cheris is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jacobcheris19@gmail.com.