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Isles at Flyers, 19/1/2012


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http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Bill-Meltzer/Flyers-Gameday-11912-vs-Islanders/45/41450

PREVIEW 6:45 AM EST

With three games remaining until the All-Star break, the Philadelphia Flyers (27-13-4) will look to continue their incredible run of success against the New York Islanders (17-21-6). Tonight's game at the Wells Fargo Center starts at 7 p.m. EST and will be broadcast locally on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia.

This is the third of six meetings between the teams this season, and the first of three in Philadelphia. The Flyers won the first two games in Long Island, but it wasn't easy. The Islanders outplayed the Flyers in both games and deserved to win at least one of them. Entering tonight, Philadelphia has won eight in a row and 23 of the last 24 with the Islanders, including each of the last 11 meetings in Philly.

The big difference in the season series so far has been the goaltending. The Flyers received stellar goaltending in both games from Sergei Bobrovsky (relieving Ilya Bryzgalov after the first period of the initial meeting and starting the last game). Meanwhile, the Islanders got poor goaltending from Rick DiPietro in the first game and Evgeni Nabokov allowed one awful goal in the last game.

The Flyers are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, and 5-2-0 since the Winter Classic. The team is coming off one of its most complete wins of the stretch; a 5-1 win on Tuesday against the reeling Minnesota Wild.

In that game, Sean Couturier notched a shorthanded goal to run his consecutive game goal-scoring streak to five. Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell scored power play goals, and Braydon Coburn and Jakub Voracek tallied at even strength.

The Islanders are likewise 6-4-0 over their last 10 games, and coming off one of their best efforts of the season. On Tuesday, the Islanders bottled up the Washington Capitals and skated off with a 3-0 road victory. In that tilt, Nabokov made 17 saves for the shutout, while PA Parenteau had his first two-goal NHL game and John Tavares scored his 17th goal of the season.

The biggest difference between the Flyers and Islanders over the course of this season has been the superior depth of Philadelphia evident during five-on-five play. On special teams, they've actually been remarkably similar. Both teams have connected on 19.4 percent of their power plays, and the Islanders have actually been slightly superior on the penalty kill (83.7 percent to 82.4 percent).

A subplot to tonight's game is whether the Flyers will go after New York's Steve Staios at some point early in the game (assuming Staios is in the starting lineup for Jack Capuano's team). Philadelphia was angered by an apparent elbow to the head that Staois threw on Max Talbot late in last week's game.

With they Flyers protecting a one-goal lead in the waning minutes of the third period, they did not respond physically at the time. Nevertheless, there were was a lot of anger over the play -- which was neither penalized nor resulted in a fine or suspension from the NHL due to "inconclusive video evidence" and the fact that Talbot was OK afterwards -- and especially for Staios' smirking demeanor on the bench afterwards as he traded barbs with the Philadelphia bench.

Dylan Reese was in the lineup over Staois in Tuesday's win over the Capitals, so the Flyers may not get their chance at Staios tonight if Capuano goes with the same lineup that shut out Washington.

On the injury front, the Flyers remain without Chris Pronger (LTIR, lost for season and playoffs due to concussion-related issues) and James van Riemsdyk (concussion). Agitating forward Zac Rinaldo is day-to-day with a neck problem. New York is without goalie Rick DiPietro (LTIR, sports hernia surgery), defenseman Mike Mottau (concussion) and center Marty Reasoner (broken thumb).

PROJECTED LINEUPS (subject to change)

FLYERS

Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr

Talbot - Briere - Voracek

Read - Schenn - Simmonds

Zolnierczyk - Couturier - Shelley

Timonen - Coburn

Carle - Bourdon

Gustafsson - Meszaros

Bobrovsky

[bryzgalov]

ISLANDERS

Moulson - Tavares - Okposo

Grabner - Nielsen - Parenteau

Rolston - Bailey - Martin

Niederreiter - Pandolfo - Wallace

Streit - Jurcina

MacDonald - Hamonic

Eaton - Staios/ Reese

Nabokov

[Montoya]

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Nice ;) Though I have to say, kind of a strange decision considering that Bryz played well the other night, and it isn't a B2B situation.

Probably should have been Bryz in goal.

Lavy was on 97.5 The Fanatic yesterday with Mike Missanelli and he pretty much said that the only reason Bob is starting is because of his great numbers against the Isles. I probably would have started Bryz to keep his confidence up after last game but I can also see where Lavy is coming from. He wants to put his team in the best position to win every game. The problem is sometimes when you do that you do so at the expense of games down the road. Right now its more important to get the goaltending situation stabilized than it is to overtake the Rangers for 1st in the div/East.

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Yep, just an FYI, Bob is 7-0 lifetime against the Islanders with a 1.86 GGA in those games. I can see why Lavi went with Bob, some goalies just have a certain teams number. Strangely enough, I dropped Bob last night in fantasy hockey before this start, despite knowing about his awesome stats against the Isles....why you ask?? Just gut instinct....these streaks all have to come to an end *and* the top line of the Isles is killing teams right now....Tavares is on a career best 10 game point streak, Moulson is on fire and Okposo has filled he net also. I hope it does not happen, but this line (and maybe Grabner....who is suppling much needed secondary scoring btw) might break out for 3 or 4 goals tonight. Plus, Nabakov is coming off back to back solid starts, including a shut-out. To me, all these points add up to a Islanders win....let's hope my gut is wrong!

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Philly is waaaaay overdue for a loss to the Isles. They're 23-1 over the last 24 games. That doesn't go on forever.

I don't think I like you much anymore. You need to post something to fix this against Boston.

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