NEW YORK ISLANDERS (10-8-3) VS. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (7-9-5)
7:30 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, NBCSN, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM, BUY TICKETS
1. Divisional Game: The Islanders host the Flyers for the first time this season in a key Metropolitan Division matchup. It’s only the fifth divisional game for the Islanders this season, and they went 2-0-2 in the first four, earning six of eight points. Recapturing their divisional dominance (21-6-3) from last season is key to another successful regular season and return to the playoffs.
“You want to separate yourself from other teams in your division and right now we’re not up to our standards,” Brock Nelson said. “We want to come out and just play our game, play hard, stick to what we do best, not overthink things, play a simple game. Pucks are going to bounce in our favor and when they don’t, just work hard to get back.”
2. Hickey Practices: Thomas Hickey took part in his first full team practice on Tuesday since injuring his left leg on Oct. 24 against St. Louis. Head coach Jack Capuano said Hickey is still a little ways out from returning to the Islanders’ lineup, but that the defenseman will continue to practice with the team. Hickey had two goals in four games prior to being injured.
3. Special Teams: Since scoring in five straight games (Oct. 23-31), the Islanders’ power play has gone 2-for-33 in November. And after a perfect nine games (26 straight kills), the PK is has allowed a goal in seven of nine games. The Islanders’ special teams are looking to bounce back against the Flyers 24th-ranked power play and 18th-ranked penalty kill.
“Special teams can turn games at crucial times and you saw that last game,” Nelson said. “We had a power play in a 2-2 and didn’t score and then gave up a power-play goal, so you win and lose games on special teams and you need those going for you.”
The Flyers’ offense is struggling in its first year under head coach Dave Hakstol, scoring 39 goals, the fewest in the Eastern Conference and second-fewest in the NHL. The Flyers were shut out in back-to-back games against the San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators last week, but snapped out of it with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with seven goals and 16 points, while Jakub Voracek leads the team with 10 assists. Former Islander Mark Streit was the team’s third-leading scorer (3G, 6A) before suffering a lower-body injury on Nov. 12.
Former Islander Colin McDonald was recalled by the Flyers Tuesday and could be available for Wednesday’s game. McDonald spent three seasons with the Islanders, scoring 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points in 133 games.