It’s been a dream first half for the New York Islanders, who conclude their pre-All-Star schedule against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday afternoon (1 p.m.) at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders sit first in the Metropolitan with 61 points, second in the Eastern Conference and were the NHL’s first 30-win team this season. They are 15-4-0 at home, 14-2-0 against the Metro Division and 21-6-1 against the Eastern Conference.
“It’s been pretty successful to this point,” Josh Bailey said. “We don’t look into it too much, we know what lies ahead, it’s a long, tough road. It’s not going to get any easier. Down the stretch things become a little tighter, teams have a lot to play for and start really bearing down. It’ll be no different for us.”
One trait of the Islanders strong start has been the ability to bounce back from a tough loss, or losses, to avoid a lengthy losing streak. The Islanders haven’t lost more than three straight games this season and have followed up losing skids with long winning streaks. Prior to Saturday’s loss in Montreal, the Islanders were on an 11-3-1 streak.
“We didn’t really like the way we played [Saturday] night,” Josh Bailey said. “We talked about it, put it behind us and began to get ready for the next one. After a good game you do the same too. That helps limit the peaks and valleys in a season.”
One Islander riding a peak right now is Kyle Okposo who has five goals in his last two games. The rest of the top line is rolling as well, as Bailey (five assists) and John Tavares (two goals, three assists) each have five points in their last two.
“The more we play together, the more familiar we get,” Bailey said. “It’s just a lot of little things, just reading off each other and figuring out where one another is going to be. Ultimately, the more you play with people, the more comfortable and better you get, so hopefully we keep trending in that direction.”
To get back into the win column, the Islanders will have to get past the Flyers, who visit the Coliseum for the second time this season. The Islanders beat the Flyers 1-0 in a shootout on Nov. 24, outshooting Philadelphia 46-21. Steve Mason turned in a superb game for the Flyers, but blinked first in the skills competition, while Jaroslav Halak came up with a desperation, arm-on-the goal-line save on Claude Giroux, helping secure the win for the Islanders. Frans Nielsen and John Tavares scored on successive shootout attempts.
The Flyers are led by Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux who are first and fifth in league scoring, respectively. Voracek is enjoying a marvelous year, scoring a league-leading 53 points (17 goals, 36 assists) in 46 games, leading the Flyers in all three categories as well. The Flyers forward led the league in points when the teams met two months ago and is still in the top spot.
Giroux isn’t far behind his linemate, as the Flyers captain has 49 points (14 goals, 35 assists) in 45 games this season. Former Islanders captain Mark Streit is third on the Flyers with 32 points (six goals, 26 assists) this season.
“They are a tough team,” Casey Cizikas said. “They play extremely hard and have guys who can put the puck in the back of the net, so we have to play strong defensively and limit our turnovers.”
In goal, Rob Zepp has appeared in four straight games for the Flyers, starting three of them. The 33-year-old rookie made 24 saves in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and is 3-1-0 this season. Head Coach Jack Capuano has not named a starter for today’s game, but Chad Johnson may get the nod after Jaroslav Halak started back-to-back games over the weekend.
Puck drop is at 1 p.m.
|New York Islanders |
30-14-1 (61 points – 1st in Metropolitan Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
|Philadelphia Flyers |
18-21-7 (43 points - 5th in Metropolitan Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)
|1:00 p.m. |
Play-by-play: Howie Rose; Color: Butch Goring
Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
|Islanders News: |
- Canadiens 6, Islanders 4 (Jan. 17)
- Post-Game Reaction, The Skinny (Jan. 17)
- Japanese Star Lights Up Lighthouse Tourney (Jan. 17)
- Tournament A Chance To Relect for Nielsen (Jan. 17)
- Nikko Ice Bucks Win Lighthouse Tourney (Jan. 17)
What's Happening at the Coliseum:
- Lower Lobby Opens 11:00 a.m.
- Doors Open 11:45 p.m.
|Islanders player to watch |
Anders Lee - Forward
After tallying a goal Saturday in Montreal, the 24-year-old forward is on a career-high, four-game point streak (three goals, one assist). The Edina, MN native now has seven goals in his last 14 games, including four game-winning goals. His five game-winning goals this season lead all rookies and are tied for second in the NHL behind only Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
|Flyers player to watch |
Mark Streit - Forward
The former Islanders captain sits fourth in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference amongst defensemen in scoring with 32 points (six goals, 26 assists) through 46 games. Streit scored a power-play goal in Philadelphia’s 4-3 win in Buffalo on Saturday. In five games against the Isles since leaving the Long Island in the summer of 2013, Streit has four assists.
|New York Islanders previous game lines |
12 Josh Bailey – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
27 Anders Lee – 51 Frans Nielsen – 18 Ryan Strome
40 Michael Grabner – 29 Brock Nelson – 86 Nikolay Kulemin
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
2 Nick Leddy – 55 Johnny Boychuk
44 Calvin de Haan – 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 37 Brian Strait
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
|Philadelphia Flyers previous game lines |
10 Brayden Schenn - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
18 R.J. Umberger - 14 Sean Couturier - 17 Wayne Simmonds
36 Zac Rinaldo - 12 Michael Raffl - 24 Matt Read
76 Chris VandeVelde - 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 40 Vincent Lecavalier
32 Mark Streit - 47 Andrew MacDonald
15 Michael Del Zotto - 55 Nick Schultz
22 Luke Schenn - 26 Carlo Colaiacovo
72 Rob Zepp
29 Ray Emery