Two longtime rivals… Flyers vs Islands. NY vs Philly.
Two franchises with famous Stanley Cup histories. For the first time since the 1980s, the Philadelphia Flyers will face the New York Islanders in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The two teams enter this matchup on somewhat different trajectories. After winning all three games of the round-robin to earn the top seed in the East, the Flyers offense looked stifled against the Canadiens.
However, solid defense, along with sharp goaltending by playoff debutante Carter Hart led to a six-game victory. The Islanders looked impressive in the four-game qualifier elimination of the Florida Panthers and continued their hot play in defeating the Washington Capitals in Round 1 in just five games.
Flyers vs Islanders
Despite the Isles winning all three regular-season matchups, the Flyers enter as the slightly favored team. Most books have them around -130, with the best price on FoxBet at -125 as of Monday morning.
Lowest price for the series result on each side is currently Flyers in six and Islanders in 7.
Both teams are heavy liabilities for books on the Stanley Cup futures markets. Philadelphia’s prices have actually gone up since the first round and they’re now around the fifth choice on most boards.
FanDuel Sportsbook reported bettors bought the most tickets last week for the Flyers, followed by the Islanders.
While it’s unfortunate these two teams won’t be playing in their home arenas (Brooklyn has been good but face it, we all can’t wait to see the blue and orange in the new arena by Belmont Park, on the Island WHERE THEY BELONG), this should still be intense play in Toronto.
While both teams have potent offenses and star shooters, it’s been the defense that’s helped both reach the conference semis. All of Philly’s wins came with a total of five or less against the Habs.
The Isles kept the Caps to three goals or less in all five games, with three games staying under five goals total.
Will this be a series to hammer the under?
That will rely on two factors.
One, can the Flyers top scorers return to form?
- Jake Voracek led the charge in the first round with help from defensemen and role players.
- Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecky are still goalless this postseason.
- While the Flyers cruised through the round-robin with depth scoring, the marquee players need to step up to continue the success.
Two, can Islanders goalie Sergei Varmalov continue his excellent play?
- He’s done well in his first year with the team and did well shutting down the Caps’ potent offense.
- However, he gave up early goals in games his team won.
- Philly has played much better with leads than Washington did and their four lines are more potent. He won’t get as much attention as Hart but he can certainly steal some headlines.
Philly vs NY – Who Takes It All?
Another wrinkle to this series is that there are two sets of back-to-back games in the schedule. The teams get no rest between Games 2 and 3 and none is slated between potential Games 6 and 7.
That will certainly test the teams’ depth, stamina, and fortitude. Remember: both teams won the front end of their back-to-back games (the Isles in Game 2 of the qualifiers against Florida, the Flyers in Game 4 against Montreal) and lost the next game as their opponent staved off elimination.
It will be crucial to gain a 3-2 edge in the series heading into those two final games.
Flyers fans should be happy to know all four prior meetings took place during runs to the Stanley Cup Finals. Yes, this is the 40th anniversary of the questionable Bobby Nystrom goal on Pete Peeters that launched the Isles dynasty.
However, this should be a great introduction to younger fans to a great rivalry that’s featured Hall of Famers of decades past, exciting play, and that East Coast grit that endears the sport to inhabitants.
While we shouldn’t expect a wide-open game from the days of Mike Bossy and Tim Kerr, this should be a good test of skilled hockey and stacked rosters.
Whoever wins and earns their way to Edmonton for the conference finals will need lots of energy, strong two-way play, and some lucky bounces.