Philadelphia Flyers (6-9-1--13pts)
New York Islanders (6-7-1--13pts)
TV: CSN - RADIO: 97.5 The Fanatic
1. ON THE ISLAND
This is the first of four meetings against the Islanders this season… Last year, the Flyers went 4-2-0 against the Islanders, including a perfect 3-0-0 at Long Island - however all three games were decided by one goal… The Flyers have won six straight games at Long Island with their last loss coming on Apr. 1, 2010… The Flyers are 124-86-26-5 in 241 games against the Islanders - The 124 wins and 279 standings points the Flyers have against the Isles are the second most they have against any opponent, behind only Pittsburgh.
2. PP & PK
The Flyers have not allowed a power play goal in five consecutive games… They are 16-for-16 on the penalty kill in that five-game span and are 33-for-35 (94.3 pct) in their last nine games… The PK unit was operating at 67.7 percent (21-for-31) after the first seven games of the season… The Islanders have the 2nd best power-play at 27.6 percent (16-for-58) and 16 of their 44 goals (36 percent) this season have come on the man advantage… They also have the 4th best penalty kill in the NHL 87.2 percent (41-for-47).
3. THIS & THAT
The Islanders come into today's game having won two in-a-row, while the Flyers have dropped two straight… This is the fourth "day game" of the season for the Flyers - they are 1-2-0 so far… Ilya Bryzgalov has started all but two games for the Flyers this season (Jan. 27 at TB & Feb. 16 at MTL)… Same can be said about Isles' Evgeni Nabokov (Jan. 25 at BOS & Feb. 11 vs. CAR)… The Isles have nine new players on their 23-man roster this season… Brayden Schenn has points in three straight games (1g-2a) and points in four of his last five.
4. Player to watch FLYERS: (C) Claude Giroux - #28
Giroux has points in two of his last three games, posting three points (all assists)… He also averages over a point-per-game against the Islanders, recording five goals and 17 assists for 22 points in 21 career games… Last season, Giroux had six assists and seven points in the six-game season series… Giroux also leads Flyers forwards in ice-time per-game at 21:32.
5. Player to watch NY ISLANDERS: (C) John Tavares - #91
The Islanders star is coming off of a hat trick in New York's latest game, a 5-1 win over the Devils… The hat trick capped off a five-game goal-scoring streak to give him a team high 11 goals on the year, which is also tied for 2nd in the NHL race… Overall, Tavares has 20 points on the year and has recorded at least a point in 10 of his 14 games so far this season… Against the Flyers, Tavares has 13 points (6g-7a) in 18 career games.
"There's only one way out [and] it's to keep sticking together, keep working hard. Maybe we got to want it a little more and things will turn around at some point."
- Danny Briere
A matchup with the New York Islanders could be exactly what the Philadelphia Flyers need.
Philadelphia has dominated the series in recent years, going 28-3-1 since the start of the 2007-08 season. But the Flyers have been anything but superior this season and have especially struggled of late.
Meanwhile, the Islanders hope John Tavares can power them to a third straight win Monday night when they host Philadelphia in the opener of this season series.
The Flyers have won six straight and 13 of 14 at Nassau Coliseum but are enduring major problems on the road. They've dropped three of four thus far on a season-high six-game trip to fall to 2-8-0 away from home. No other team has more than five road losses.
Philadelphia's production slips from 2.7 goals per game at home to 2.2 on the road, but the more dramatic difference is on defense. The Flyers (6-9-1) give up an average of 3.5 goals in road games compared to 2.2 at home.
Morale seemed to hit a new low after a 4-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday, with captain Claude Giroux putting his teammates on notice.
"There's no compete. We're not winning battles," said Giroux, who has a minus-6 rating and 10 points through 16 games. He was third in the NHL last season with 93 points.
"We're just going through the motions. You know, we're a young team that can skate. We should be winning more battles than this. It's just frustrating to see. I know I have to be better, but a team is 20 guys and you need everybody to show up."
Among the other Flyers off to rough starts are Max Talbot, who has no goals after scoring a career-high 19 last season. Defenseman Braydon Coburn's minus-9 rating is among the league's worst. Sean Couturier, who had 27 points as a rookie last season, has no goals and two assists over the past eight games.
The Islanders (6-7-1) are tied with Philadelphia for last place in the Atlantic Division, though things may be looking up. New York managed just nine goals during a five-game losing streak before matching that total in their last two contests and winning both, including a 5-1 victory over New Jersey on Saturday.
Tavares had his fourth career hat trick as he scored for the fifth consecutive game, totaling nine points in that span.
"I think any great player puts a lot of responsibility on (themselves) because they want to lead (their) team," coach Jack Capuano said of Tavares. "To me, an elite player is someone you watch night in and night out, and your coaches prepare for in your pre-scout. You're looking at 91 (Tavares)."
Tavares' 11 goals - all in the past 10 games - trail only the 12 by Buffalo's Thomas Vanek. His 20 points also rank among the league leaders.
"When I get my opportunities, I want to contribute," said Tavares, scoring on 28.0 percent of his shots over the last five games and 19.3 percent on the season. "And I know offensively, that's where I contribute the most. Just trying to, when I get my chances, put the puck in."