Everything you need to know before the preseason opens
Tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers welcome the New York Islanders home. The Islanders are 1-0 in the preseason as the Flyers play their first game.
Flyers hockey returns tonight at Wells Fargo Center on NBC Sports Philadelphia. They will test their rookies and their hopes against the New York Islanders.
The Islanders were fourth in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division a season ago, but forced the eventual 2021 Stanley Cup champions in a seventh game of the Eastern Conference final.
Last season, the Flyers were 3-1-4 against the Islanders. Whenever these two franchises go head to head, it ends with a photo finish. In a season where the teams have faced each other eight times, they have become aware of the game plan. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Islanders did just enough to earn the necessary two points in the ranking.
Tonight, there are no playoff implications at stake. The result will not affect the regular season in any way. Instead of, the players involved audition for their NHL opportunity.
In their only competition against another franchise this offseason, the Flyers shared a weekend schedule against the New York Rangers during the recruit camp. Philadelphia beat the Rangers, 6-3, before losing the rematch, 2-3. Wade allison won a fight on the Flyers’ road to victory, but suffered an injury in the loss. The Islanders defeated the Rangers 4-0 in their first preseason game.
Remember Erik Gustafsson? He is currently participating in a professional trial with the New York Islanders. After disclosing the Islanders’ training camp, he faces competition in Robin salo and Thomas hickey.
Salo is a clean skating physical defender. 2017 second-round pick played with poise and had awesome vision when playing the failure before. He will continue to push for a place on the Islanders roster. Defensively he’s stronger than Gustafsson but won’t produce as much from the blue line.
Philadelphia Flyers fans know Gustafsson, a defensive handicap but a power play specialist.
In attack, the Islanders’ fourth line is ready. The trio of Casey cizikas, Cal clutterbuck, and Ross johnston form an important physical line that goes under the skin of their opponents. All three scored a goal in their first preseason game. Usually, Matt Martin would be in Johnston’s place on the fourth line. Martin likely won’t be ready for Islanders opening night.
Eye on Philadelphia
Carter Hart, who is looking to start a recovery season, is expected to play two periods tonight against the New York Islanders. He finished with a 2-1-2 record against the Islanders in 2020-21, twice failing in shootouts. Samuel Ersson will play a period.
Tonight we focus on Derick Brassard. He is fighting for a role among the middle six in 2021-2022. Brassard was a playmaker on Sunday, setting up Ivan Provorov with a quick, small-angle snipe. It leaves no doubt as to why Chuck Fletcher acquired it. Gathered with Cam Atkinson, Alain Vigneault can count on Brassard to make timely plays.
Provorov and Ryan Ellis were electric during training camp. They will play a key role in the conclusion of the Islanders’ fourth line. Jackson van de Leest and Logan’s Day will turn on the third pair, relieving Nick seeler and Yegor Zamula. Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen won’t play tonight, until Thursday.
It’s pre-season hockey. The result does not matter, but the effort does matter. In terms of the final score, I don’t care about predicting a preseason game. But, I will predict some events:
- Tyson Foerster scores a power-play goal.
- Sean Couturier wins the majority of his face-offs.
- Derick Brassard gets an assist on the power play.
- Carter Hart looks sharp.
- Yegor Zamula anchors the third pair.
Overall, we want both teams to end up healthy. They will meet again in the preseason on October 5 in Long Island.
Photo credit: Alex McIntyre