Well it wasn’t easy that’s for damn sure but the Philadelphia Flyers have advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, their quest for the Stanley Cup continues as they will take on the New York Islanders. A division matchup to decide who goes onto the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Islanders took down the Washington Capitals in five games in the previous round and they made it look pretty easy. The Capitals were the top team in the Metro division for most of the season and the Islanders dominated them. It was a very impressive opening series from the Islanders and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit concerned.
These two teams met three times during the shortened regular season. The Islanders won the series 3-0 with one win coming via the shoot-out. The first game came back at the end of October, where the Flyers were coming off one of the hardest schedules with all the traveling they had to do that first month. On top of the clear fatigue they showed during that game, the team was still in the process of figuring out AV’s system. So while the Islanders may have won that game, there’s not much to take away from it since it was so long ago. The second meeting came less than a month later and it saw the Flyers dominate the first two periods and take a 3-0 lead into the third period. The Islanders would battle all the way back and tie the game at 3 and then go onto win it in the shoot-out. I chalk this one up to the Flyers having one bad period and they didn’t get bailed out by their goaltender. Elliott was in net for this one and while he wasn’t the main reason they lost, he wasn’t able to close the door when the Flyers needed him to. The third and final meeting came back in February and in this one the roles were reversed from the second meeting. It would be the Islanders jumping out to an early 3-0 lead only to see the Flyers come back and tie it with less than two minutes to go in regulation. Shortly after the Flyers tied it though, the Islanders would get the lead right back and then add in and empty net goal to win 5-3.
I don’t think we can take too much away from the season series for multiple reasons. One, theses games happened a while ago and these two teams are so much different than they were the last time they met. Second, Carter Hart only played in half of a game against the Islanders and yes, he was pulled but that was in the first meeting back in October. Elliott has played well for us this season but I’m hoping we don’t see him at all this series.
Both of these teams have a lot of depth and it’s very impressive. That being said, I think the Flyers have the advantage as a team and that’s trying to take my biased opinion out of it. My reasoning is pretty simple here, the Islanders took care of the Caps pretty easily and they did it with all of their top guys contributing in big ways. Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, and Josh Bailey have led the way so far and that’s a great sign for the Islanders and a big reason they were able to send the Caps home so easily.
As for the Flyers, they had a hard fought series against an annoying Canadiens team. They were out scored in the series and yet they still were the team moving on. They also won the series without guys like Giroux, Couturier, Konecny, and JVR scoring a single goal. Kevin Hayes also didn’t get a goal until game 6 of the series and the Flyers were carried by their goaltending and depth scoring. Only one of their top guys had it going through the whole series and that was Jake Voracek. It’s only a matter of time before those top guys get going and if the Flyers continue to get the production out of their depth players they could dominate this series. Now on the other hand, if the top guys don’t start producing the Islanders are going to be a real problem.
The Islanders will go with Semyon Varlamov who is currently 7-2-0 in nine games during these playoffs. His Goals against average(GAA) is sitting at 1.67 and his save percentage(SV%) is at .934 which is pretty impressive. My opinion on him is that he’s a streaky goalie and this little hot streak he’s on won’t last. While the Caps had plenty of offensive talent, they weren’t on their game at all since the restart. Can Varlamov steal a game for the Islanders? Sure, he can but he’s also no Carey Price so I am not as worried about him as I was Price.
Cattah Haht will be between the pipes for the Flyers as expected. Hart is 6-2-0 in 8 games during these playoffs and has a GAA of 1.47 and a SV% of .943 and has looked incredible in every game but one. Hart has been the highlight of the Flyers since the restart and he had two shutouts during the series against the Habs. The Flyers have the clear advantage when it comes to goaltending and I full expect Hart to be the Flyers best player once again in this series.
It’s not going to be an easy series by any means, it’s the playoffs no series is going to be easy. However, I truly believe the Flyers are the much better team and they will come out on top. They have better depth than the Islanders and the better goaltending. As long as Giroux, TK, and Coots can get it going the Flyers will be fine. The Islanders play a much different style than the Habs do so I don’t see the Flyers having such a hard time getting their game going in this series. Carter Hart is going to shine and the Flyers big players will step up. I do think the Islanders win two games though as like I said this isn’t going to be easy. So my final prediction is my boys in orange and black win in 6. Now let’s go out and “Be A Fuckin’ Flyer!” #AnytimeAnywhere
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