3 Keys: Islanders vs. Flyers, Game 1 of Eastern Second Round

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No. 6 Islanders vs. No. 1 Flyers

7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders will meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1987 when they play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Monday.

The Flyers defeated the Islanders in seven games in the 1987 Patrick Division Final, before losing to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.

Philadelphia won its first postseason series since 2012 by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in Game 6 of the first round Friday in Toronto, the Eastern hub city.

“For a big portion of this group, winning that first round was a challenge, it was tough physically and mentally,” Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault said. “Having an opportunity to knock off an opponent is challenging. … We have quite a few players that are in their first kick of the can, and as this moves forward are getting better and being better players.”

The Islanders advanced to the second round for the second straight season with a 4-0 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the first round on Thursday.

“We’re pretty happy with the way we’ve been playing throughout these playoffs, and I’d imagine [the Flyers] are too,” New York forward Matt Martin said. “We have to come out, stick to our game plan, try to get on them early and hopefully get a win tonight.”

Teams that win Game 1 are 485-220 (68.7 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series, including a 7-1 record in the first round this season.

Here are 3 keys to Game 1:

 

1. Flyers need more from their best players

Philadelphia has reached the second round with one goal during the postseason from its top five regular-season goal scorers — Travis Konecny (24), Kevin Hayes (23), Sean Couturier (22), Claude Giroux (21) and James van Riemsdyk (19) — scored by Hayes in Game 6 against the Canadiens. That’s not a recipe for long-term success.

“I do believe there’s another level we can attain if our top-end guys execute the way that we’ve seen them execute throughout the year,” Vigneault said. “I don’t want to get into specific names but there are a few guys that need that execution, those plays that you need to make under pressure, those plays that you need to make to get the puck out of our end quicker, those plays that you need to make through the neutral zone, those plays in the offensive zone, that a skilled player can make, our guys did but didn’t do with the regularity and consistency that you need at this time of the year.”

 

2. Islanders get to the net

The Islanders scored eight of their 17 goals against the Capitals from 15 feet or closer to the net, and grinding out goals again will be a point of emphasis in this series.

The Canadiens were able to use their speed to create havoc in front of Flyers goalie Carter Hart but were unable to finish. The Islanders will try to use their size and skill to create those opportunities and take advantage of them.

“We have to make it as hard on [Hart] as possible,” Martin said. “That’s with pretty well any team in the playoffs; everyone has good goaltending. We have to make it hard on them, get traffic, fire pucks on net and try to get to him early where you can shake their confidence a little bit.”

 

3. Score first, hold the lead

The Flyers are 7-0-0 when scoring first during the postseason. The Islanders are 4-1.

The Islanders have shown a bit more resiliency, going 3-1 when the opponent scores first. The Flyers are 0-2 when allowing the game’s first goal.

 

Islanders projected lineup

Anders LeeMathew BarzalJordan Eberle

Anthony BeauvillierBrock NelsonJosh Bailey

Derick BrassardJean-Gabriel PageauLeo Komarov

Matt Martin — Casey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Adam PelechRyan Pulock

Devon ToewsScott Mayfield

Nick LeddyAndy Greene

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Tom Kuhnhackl, Andrew Ladd, Sebastian Aho, Johnny Boychuk, Noah Dobson, Thomas Hickey, Christopher Gibson

Unfit to play: None 

 

Flyers projected lineup

Michael Raffl — Sean Couturier — Jakub Voracek

Joel Farabee — Kevin Hayes — Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk — Claude Giroux — Scott Laughton

Derek GrantNate ThompsonTyler Pitlick

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen

Travis SanheimPhilippe Myers

Robert HaggJustin Braun

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Connor Bunnaman, Morgan Frost, Oskar Lindblom, Mark Friedman, Shayne Gostisbehere, Andy Welinski, Egor Zamula, Alex Lyon, Kirill Ustimenko

Unfit to play: None

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