Game Preview 4/25/13: Islanders vs. Flyers
The New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Fllyers are both in unfamiliar situations coming into the final two games of the regular season. The visiting Isles managed to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007 with an overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, while the Flyers sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and are mathematically eliminated from any playoff contention for the first time since the same year.
It will be the fourth and final meeting between the two Atlantic Division rivals at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. After a brutal 7-0 home loss to Philly earlier in the season, the Islanders responded with a pair of wins to lead the season series 2-1.
The Isles, who are are 8-0-3 in the month of April, will be looking the improve on their already impressive run and lock in the highest seed possible for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. Currently holding the 6th spot, the Islanders can finish in as high as 5th and as low as 8th depending on these last two games.
John Tavares' late third period goal on Tuesday was just as good as a win for Islander fans. After the Winnipeg Jets lost to the Washington Capitals, the lone point acquired in the shootout loss assured the fans that the playoffs would once again return to Long Island.
As for tonight's matchup in Philadelphia, the post-season-bound Isles will give goaltender, Evgeni Nabakov, the night off and start Kevin Poulin in net. Since the the team will close out the regular season in Buffalo tomorrow night, giving Nabby a rest seems like an appropriate "thank you" for the veteran net minder for his strong and consistent play between the pipes this season.
If the Islanders can continue to utilize each line tonight as they have been, combined with some solid goaltending from Poulin, the Isles could potentially inch into the 5th seed in the East with some help from the Florida Panthers tonight.
Although the Flyer's are eliminated from this season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, you must assume that a talented Philadelphia roster could squeeze out a 3rd straight win. Steve Mason is likely to start in net for the Flyers, as Ilya Bryzgalov has been getting some extra rest from from Philly's coaching staff.
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