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Islanders seek to break through against Flyers

by John McGourty
ISLANDERS (23-23-8) at FLYERS (26-23-3)

Last 10 -- New York 5-5-0; Philadelphia 6-4-0

Season series -- This is the fourth meeting this season between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Flyers beat the Islanders, 2-1, in Uniondale on Nov. 25 on goals by Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell. Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux and Richards all had two goals in a 6-2 victory Dec. 8 in Philadelphia. Carter and Danny Briere scored in a 2-1 win on Dec. 17 on Long Island. The teams meet again March 9 in Philadelphia and April 1 on Long Island.

Big story -- The Flyers and Islanders were expected to bookend the Eastern Conference, the Flyers on top and the Islanders at the bottom. But the Flyers have disappointed and the Islanders have shown amazing resiliency. In the crowded Eastern Conference standings, the Flyers are seventh and the Islanders are 13th, even though they are only one point apart.

Team Scope:

Islanders -- Two castoffs have found new life under coach Scott Gordon: Matt Moulson, 26, the former Cornell star who had six goals in 29 games for the Los Angeles Kings, leads the Islanders with 20 goals, including four game-winners. He signed as a free agent last summer. Rob Schremp, 23, a first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2004, failed to score in seven Oilers games over three seasons before the Islanders claimed him on waivers on Sept. 19. Schremp has six goals and 17 points in 32 games, including four power-play goals. He is also tied for the team lead with five shootout goals, one behind League leader Pavel Datsyuk.

Flyers -- The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday that the Flyers practiced with new line combinations. Darroll Powe moved to left wing on a line centered by Carter with Briere at right wing. Hartnell went from left wing on Carter's line to right wing on Richards' line, with Simon Gagne at left wing. Giroux centered left wing James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham while the fourth line of Blair Betts centering left wing Dan Carcillo and right wing Ian Laperriere remained intact.

Who's hot --
Islanders forward Kyle Okposo has six goals and nine points in the past 11 games. … Flyers center Carter has seven points in five games. Carcillo has three goals in five games.

Injury report --
Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent is out for up to six weeks following back surgery. Defenseman Danny Syvret is day-to-day with a separated shoulder. … Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek is out for the season with a torn ACL. Defenseman Jack Hillen is out until mid-March with a broken jaw. Defenseman Brendan Witt has missed nine games with a calf injury. Right wing Tim Jackman has missed 12 games with a broken orbital bone and is due back in early February.

Stat pack --
The Flyers have scored 16 more goals and surrendered 20 fewer goals than the Islanders while playing two fewer games. They score 1.05 goals for every opponent's goal in 5-on-5 play. The Islanders score only 0.83 goals to every opponents' goal in 5-on-5 play.

Puck Drop -- The race for the Calder Memorial Trophy probably includes six players: goalies Jimmy Howard (Detroit) and Semyon Varlamov (Washington); defenseman Tyler Myers (Buffalo); and forwards Matt Duchene (Avalanche), John Tavares (Islanders) and van Riemsdyk (Flyers). Varlamov has only one defeat in 14 games. Howard has played 33 games. Duchene has 16 goals and 34 points and is minus-7. Tavares, the No. 1 draft pick in 2009, has 17 goals and 33 points and is minus-10. van Riemsdyk has 12 goals and 31 points and is plus-6. Myers has seven goals and 30 points and is plus-8. Myers leads the Sabres and all NHL rookies with 23:25 minutes of ice time per game. Advantage: Myers, but you get to see Tavares vs. van Riemsdyk in this game.

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