New York Islanders (35-28-12) at Philadelphia Flyers (36-32-8)
7 p.m. Wells Fargo Center
Radio: AM970 - The Answer, 88.7FM - WRHU, 103.9FM - LI News
Game Notes, Morning Skate Updates
According to Doug Weight, the New York Islanders are in dire need of a win on Thursday when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m., MSG+).
That much is obvious, as the Islanders (82 points) are four points back of the Boston Bruins (86 points) for the final playoff spot, one point back of Tampa Bay Lightning (83 points) while also trying to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes (82 points). With seven games left in regular season, every game is a must-win for the Islanders.
"We have to win tomorrow," Weight said Wednesday after the Islanders practice. "We just have to go win hockey games one at a time, that's our focus. We have to go in tomorrow night play as hard as we can every shift and go from there."
The Islanders didn't get any help on Tuesday night, as Boston, Carolina and Toronto all picked up two points. Weight isn't counting on getting any help, but said he wants the Islanders to put some pressure back on the other teams in the race.
"If we can win [Thursday], pressure sways quick in this race with these five teams and we've been on both sides of it," Weight said. "I'd like us to have a big statement tomorrow and sway some of that pressure back that's what it's all about."
Boston hosts Dallas, Carolina hosts Columbus, Tampa Bay is home to Detroit and Toronto visits Nashville as all five teams in the race are in action on Thursday.
Dire was Weight's word, but the other D-word in the room was desperation, which is what the Islanders need to play with on Thursday.
"If it's not there then you shouldn't be playing the game," Jason Chimera said. "If the desperation isn't at an extreme fire level then definitely we need to light the match and watch the forest fire burn kind of thing. It's do-or-die now, we put ourselves in a situation now where we are still giving ourselves a chance to be in there which is remarkable from where we've come. The worst feeling as a hockey player is April 9 or 10 and you have nowhere to go."
Boychuk Could Return:
UPDATE: Johnny Boychuk is back in for the Islanders on Thursday. He'll play with Nick Leddy. Read more in the Islanders Morning Skate Updates.
Johnny Boychuk was a full participant in both Islanders practices this week and could return to the lineup against Philadelphia. Boychuk has missed 12 games with a lower-body injury, a frustrating time of year to be sidelined.
"You want to play every game and unfortunately I got hurt," Boychuk said. "I just want to get back and help the team win."
Weight didn't commit to Boychuk's return on Wednesday, but had previously said he anticipated his return during the Islanders back-to-back set. Boychuk has 21 points (6G, 15A) in 59 games this season.
"I'd like to have him in," Weight said.
Video: Greiss, strong defense lead Isles past Flyers, 3-1
Isles vs. Flyers:
This is the fourth and final meeting between the Islanders and Flyers this season. The Islanders are 1-0-2 against the Flyers this season, with the road team winning all three matchups. The Isles beat the Flyers 3-1 on Feb. 9 in Philadelphia.
The Flyers (80 points) have faint playoff hopes with six games left. Winning all six would give the Flyers 92 points and even then, they'd need some help. Still, the Islanders should expect a desperate Flyers team when the puck drops at 7 p.m.
The Flyers are playing desperate hockey and enter Thursday with consecutive wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. Overall the Flyers have won three of their last four games.
Jordan Weal brings a two-game goal streak, while Claude Giroux (3A), Shayne Gostisbehere (1G, 2A) and Brayden Schenn (1G, 1A) all bring two-game point streaks into Thursday.