Isles Return Home To Face The Philadelphia Flyers

The New York Islanders return home to host the Philadelphia Flyers after playing the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road last night, which resulted in a 4-3 win.

The Flyers arrival on Coliseum ice tonight also means the return of former Islanders captain Mark Streit. The puck-moving defenseman was let go over the summer and signed with the Flyers as an unrestricted free agent. He currently has two assists and is a -4 on a struggling Flyers team that is 2-7-0, sitting in last place for the entire league.

On the other hand, the Islanders have continued to find ways to earn points and win hockey games, currently holding a 4-3-3 record on the year. They sit 7th in the Eastern Conference and are in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

A win tonight over another division rival would be huge for the Islanders. They could really benefit from a winning streak at this time of the year in order to secure a better position in their division. Currently, the Carolina Hurricanes are tied with them with 11 points, and the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals are right behind them with 10 each.

Look for forwards Frans Nielsen and John Tavares to continue looking to light the lamp tonight, as both centers have been major offensive weapons so far this season.

Nielsen currently leads the Islanders with 14 points (six goals and eight assists) and has been playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. He typically is a player that flies under the radar, quietly potting between 40-50 points a year as a second line, two-way forward. But this year, Nielsen has been increasing his offensive reliability while still paying attention to the defensive side of the game, effectively giving the Isles a one-two punch between him and Tavares.

As the new captain of the Isles, Tavares has 12 points on the year and is currently riding a nine-game point streak, having recorded a point in every game this year aside from the season opener against New Jersey.

With both centers playing at such high levels, forwards Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner have been able to start the year excellently.

Speaking of which, Grabner will be returning to the line-up tonight after serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head when the Isles played the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this week. This means someone will have to sit. The likely candidate is rookie Brock Nelson.

Despite knocking aside 39 of 42 shots last night, Kevin Poulin will get the nod in goal. It will be his second start of the year after losing a 3-2 game against the Chicago Blackhawks on the road earlier this month.

Head coach Jack Capuano hinted that Poulin might start to see more playing time this year after Nabokov let up five goals in the team's 5-4 OT loss to the Vancouver Canucks this week. Being that Nabokov is 38 years old and not getting any younger, it makes perfect sense for the team's potential goalie of the future to start seeing more ice time as opposed to just playing twice a month.

The Flyers will likely try to get a lot of shots on Poulin early on in the game being that he has seen limited game action this year. The Isles defense will have to be physical and willing to block shots in front of Poulin in order to help him earn his first win of the year.

The puck drops tonight at 7 PM.

-Rob McGowan
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