Presidential Pregame for 2/18/13: Islanders vs. Flyers

The Islanders (6-7-1) look to build on their 2 game winning streak when Philadelphia (6-9-1) skates into the Nassau Coliseum for a President's Day matinee. Is there a better way to honor the great American presidents than pitting Philadelphia against New York?

After looking lost for 5 games and losing in an assortment of ways, the Isles have returned to relevance. The fans have taken their hand off of the panic button. Over the past two games, the Islanders have looked like a different team.
After coming out flat in Thursday's game against the Rangers, the Isles looked set on making their losing streak hit 6. Falling behind 2-0, in enemy territory, against a talented Ranger team, the game looked hopeless. But during the first intermission, something happened behind closed doors. 
From what was reported, Doug Weight had ripped into the team about their lackluster performance. Using imaginations as to what was actually said, the stern talk woke up a sleeping team.
Over the past 5 periods, the Islanders have looked sharp in every aspect of their game. Their success on the power play has returned. Their excellent penalty killing has come back. Most importantly through this terrible stretch, John Tavares has carried this team. He has remained a constant and keeps on proving to the Isles that they have the right man to build their future around. 
JT has been on fire and doesn't show any signs of slowing down. He now has 11 goals and 9 assists. Tavares has looked the part of a franchise player and is making a claim to be one of the best players in the league. In fact, our very own Pete Paguaga discussed where John Tavares ranks among NHL's elite players earlier this week.
The NHL is starting to realize what Isles' fans have known since 2009: John Tavares is amazing.
But even with this Islanders team that is playing well, everyone knows the history that is in place for today's match up against Philadelphia. The Flyers have dominated the Islanders in recent years to the tune of 6 straight at the Coliseum and 13 of 14 overall in the Old Barn. 
It hasn't been pretty of late but the Islanders can look to capitalize on a Flyers team that struggles mightily on the road. The Flyers are a league worst 2-8-0 away from Philadelphia.
The Islanders can hope to build some confidence against a team that has vexed them for years. They also can build some separation from the Atlantic Division basement and themselves. 
The team realizes that this in a work in progress but they have a chance to make a huge statement to themselves that this season is not like the past few seasons. After losing 5 straight, they looked lost and hopeless. They seemed to be on the brink of another wasted season. But the talent on this Islanders team did not let it get to that point.
The mental toughness they have shown to dig themselves out of that hole is remarkable. The Isles have rebounded when they could have folded against two very good opponents. Instead of looking at a 7 game losing streak possibly going on 8, the team has responded and is looking for their third straight victory. 
With the guidance of John Tavares, this team has taken a situation that was spiraling out of control and turned it around. Defeating the Philadelphia Flyers would help build a little more confidence and set a tone for the rest of the year.