Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders: Round 2, Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders NHL Playoffs Round 2
Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders, Eastern Conference Semifinals

With their backs to the wall, the New York Islanders changed goalies and changed the momentum of the series in an instant. Thomas Greiss didn’t have to do much work in shutting out the Philadelphia Flyers, but he made 16 saves for his second win of the series to push the Islanders into the conference finals for the first time in 27 years. New York wasted no time asserting control of Game 7 with two first-period goals and from there the Islanders locked down the Flyers and didn’t allow them many chances to tie the game. Brock Nelson’s second-period tally effectively sealed the deal for the Islanders who didn’t squander their 3-1 series lead.

New York Islanders win 4-3

It was a deserved series win for the New York Islanders, but the Philadelphia Flyers sure made them work for it. There were moments where it felt like Philadelphia might be taking control of the series, but each time New York responded with something to remind everyone it was the better team over seven games. The Islanders’ Game 7 was a clinic in closing out a series, and it was proof of what New York could accomplish when it executes at the highest of levels. Now that the Islanders are back in the conference finals, however, they will need their best game if they are going to slow down the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have been on a tear this postseason against strong defensive teams.

Game 1

August 24th, 7 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

These two division rivals play a very similar style of game, which makes the NHL playoffs series between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders so intriguing. Both teams are strong defensively with goalies who have played really well so far this postseason and possess offenses that have been timely but not overly explosive. The Islanders have been consistent in this postseason but the Flyers looked great in the round robin portion before struggling a bit with Montreal in the previous round.

It wasn’t Carey Price tripped up the Flyers as much as their own lack of production from the top line hurt them. Philadelphia had four 20-goal scorers during the regular season and those four have combined for just one goal in nine playoff games. Jakub Voracek, who was the team’s third-leading points scorer in the regular season, paces the club in the playoffs with eight points on four goals and four assists, but the next three top goal scorers in the postseason had a combined 29 goals in the regular season.

New York plays to its identity so well, which is why it had such an easy time dispatching Washington in the first official round. The Islanders are built to win low-scoring games, so they won’t blow out any team unless that team is just playing that poorly. It’s been a team effort offensively for New York with six players scoring at least three goals and seven with at least five points through nine playoff games. It’s an effort in support of Semyon Varlamov, who is 7-2 with a 1.67 goals against average and .934 save percentage so far.

It makes sense that Philadelphia as the top seed in the Eastern Conference would be the favorite in this series, according to the NHL betting sites in New Jersey. However, the Islanders have looked like the better team and there is just more trust built up with New York than Philadelphia. The Flyers didn’t score more than two goals in any of the first four games against Montreal, and the Islanders are a better team at both ends of the ice than the Canadiens. New York was able to score more than three goals per game against the Capitals, and I expect they’ll be able to outscore Philadelphia in this series. I’d take New York to win the series at +110 odds, adding it that the Islanders will do it in six games for an additional +550 odds.

Both teams will be on the defensive early in Game 1 on Monday, and that will have an impact on the final score. Philadelphia is favored to win the opener, but I expect New York will still be a formidable foe that the Flyers aren’t expecting. Offense will be at a premium, so take the under five goals scored prop for +110 odds then add it to the Islanders winning at +105 odds.

BET ON NEW YORK ISLANDERS TO WIN

Game 2 (New York Islanders lead 1-0)

August 26th, 3:00 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

In what was supposed to be a battle of two really good defensive teams, only one showed up in Game 1. The New York Islanders smothered the Philadelphia Flyers for 60 minutes, blocking 22 shots and allowing only 29 on goal as the Islanders won Monday night. The Flyers also only allowed 29 shots on goal, but they blocked just 10 and Carter Hart stopped just 25 of the 28 he saw. It was the continuation of what we’ve seen from New York during this entire postseason run and another chapter in Philadelphia’s scoring saga as the fifth game with two or fewer goals in the last seven contests.

Monday was the second consecutive shutout for Semyon Varlamov in these NHL playoffs, a credit to how well he’s playing as much as the Islanders’ defensive structure. He made 29 stops against the Flyers, making tough saves look routine at times as he’s found himself in a special groove. In front of Varlamov, the Islanders continue to play sterling defense by blocking shots and eliminating passing lanes for opponents. Philadelphia didn’t take advantage of the chances it had in the second period, but the Islanders played a big part in that then came out strong to start the third to finish the game.

The Flyers were overwhelmed in the first period by the Islanders, but they never seem to piece any part of their game together in Game 1. Philadelphia was much better defensively at limiting chances over the final 40 minutes, but Hart was average at best in allowing two goals in the third period that basically went through him. Philadelphia’s problematic offense also reared its head as the Flyers continue their struggle to score goals against good defensive teams. It didn’t cost the Flyers against Montreal because Hart played well and the Canadiens didn’t have the same finishers as the Islanders have, but now the lack of scoring is costly.

What we witnessed in Game 1 was exactly what I thought would happen when the Flyers met a team with a decent offense. Philadelphia was great in the round robin, but it was very clear that the round robin was just a warmup for many teams. The Islanders have had to battle all playoffs and have excelled under that pressure while the Flyers have had some issues in the first seven games of the real playoffs – even though they won the previous series. For some reason, Philadelphia is the favorite according to the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, but I’m sticking with the Islanders train and picking them to win in regulation at +160 odds and going with the under 4.5 total goals in regulation at +100.

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Game 3 (Series tied 1-1)

August 27th, 7:00 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

The Philadelphia Flyers looked to be ready to go from the opening faceoff of Game 2 on Wednesday. They just couldn’t sustain that momentum for the next two periods, and it almost cost them. The New York Islanders rallied for three straight goals after trailing 3-0 after the first period, but the Flyers were able to score early in the overtime to tie the series. New York held a 34-31 edge in shots on goal and 39-31 advantage in hits, but could not complete the rally in the extra session.

Kevin Hayes made the most of his early playing time with two goals in the first 10 minutes and Sean Couturier added a third in the period to chase Semyon Varlamov. The problem was after taking 10 shots in the first 15 minutes, the Flyers had just 21 over the next 48 minutes as they seemed to let their foot off the gas. Give Philadelphia credit for regrouping between the third period and overtime to shake off the blown lead and score early in the extra session to build some momentum. However, the fact the Islanders were able to push back as simply as they did is something Philadelphia needs to fix if it wants to win the series.

It was clearly a poor start for New York, but the Islanders deserve a lot of credit for bouncing back to tie the game over the final 40 minutes. The Islanders’ big scorers came up in the clutch to force the overtime, which is always a positive sign even in the loss. It will be interesting to see if the Islanders decide to stick with Thomas Greiss after the goalie stopped his first 20 shots after relieving Varlamov a little more than 15 minutes into the game. The goalie decision is especially amplified on the second night of a back-to-back in the postseason in a series tied at one win each.

Even though Philadelphia won Game 2, it still feels like the momentum belongs with the Islanders after their spirited comeback. It’s hard to judge New York on its worst 20 minutes of the postseason, but the Islanders will clearly need to bring more energy from the opening faceoff if they want to win Game 3 on Thursday. Philadelphia’s offense wasn’t consistent in the first round, and it’s hard to imagine it would be in this round either. Varlamov bounces back with a strong performance in goal and the Islanders roll along, even though they will likely bet he underdogs on the NHL betting sites in New Jersey.

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Game 4 (New York Islanders lead 2-1)

August 30th, 8 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

Both the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers showed off excellent defensive structure, but once again it was the Islanders’ scoring that came through in crunch time Saturday. Philadelphia couldn’t extend its first-period lead and New York took the lead for good late in the second period. The Flyers’ best players couldn’t generate enough offense against the Islanders, while New York’s top guns handled most of the offensive pressure for the Islanders in the victory. Now Philadelphia has a quick turnaround before Game 4 begins Sunday night to fix its offense and find more scoring.

Leo Komarov’s tiebreaking goal in the second period was yet another critical goal in a clutch moment for New York in the NHL playoffs. The Islanders have found ways to score when it matters most, whether it’s in overtime or in situations where it can demoralize an opponent. Komarov broke the tie with six seconds left in the second period then the Islanders capitalized in the third period on their only power-play shot in the game to seal the victory. It was another sound effort from Semyon Varlamov in goal after a rough first period in Game 2, and New York’s defense again suffocated most of Philadelphia’s best chances.

Philadelphia’s offensive woes continued in a big way after taking a first-period lead in Game 3. The Flyers didn’t score for the rest of the game and only had 27 shots in the contest against Varlamov. All four of their shots on the one power play were rejected by Varlamov and 18 other attempts were stuffed by the Islanders’ defense. What is especially troubling is Philadelphia is getting roughly the same number of shots it had in the previous round, but are not able to match the production on the defensive end. The Flyers don’t seem capable of winning games 1-0 or 2-0 right now, which is how they won many of their games against Montreal.

Once again Philadelphia has trouble scoring on a solid defensive team, and it’s hard to imagine that changing in Game 4. The Islanders have basically shut down the Flyers for eight of the nine regulation periods in this series, and Philadelphia doesn’t show any signs of breaking that chokehold on its offense. New York isn’t much better on offense, but at the very least the Islanders are taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. It’ll be another tight game, but New York’s finishing and strong defense will be the difference, even if the NHL betting sites in New Jersey want to disagree with me.

BET ON NEW YORK ISLANDERS TO WIN

Game 5 (New York Islanders lead 3-1)

September 1st, 7 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

Both the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers played backup goalies on the second night of consecutive games. Only one of those teams provided the complementary resources to earn that goalie a victory in Game 4 on Sunday night. The Islanders rallied around Thomas Greiss to block 19 shots and make life easier for the goalie and scored two critical goals to break open the game in the third period to move within a game of eliminating Philadelphia. The Flyers’ struggles to score in the NHL playoffs continued as they failed to capitalize on their extended possession and dominance in the shot totals.

It was a risk for New York to start Greiss in a crucial Game 4, but the goalie came through like he did in Game 2 and stopped 36 shots to backstop the Islanders to a win. On the second night of a back-to-back neither team was very crisp, but New York did more than enough to weather the Flyers storm and create chances of their own. Once again, the Islanders’ best players scored big goals in critical moments as they were able to quickly take a two-goal lead midway through the third period to break open the game. Perhaps the biggest difference in this game was how the two teams handled their one power play. Philadelphia couldn’t get off one shot in those two minutes while New York reeled off nine shots on goal, all of which were saved, but proved their dominance at the very least.

Philadelphia threw all it could at Greiss and the Islanders, with 38 shots on goal and 19 others blocked by the New York defense. Yet the Flyers could only score once in the first 58 minutes and 55 seconds while conceding three times. That is a strong indictment on the Flyers’ struggling offense, which again dominated play at times without scoring a goal. The Flyers were less than compact defensively in allowing 33 shots on goal and only blocking seven attempts, but the issue with this team is on offense, not defense. Philadelphia has had one period of success and a nice overtime goal in Game 2, but otherwise has been shut down by the Islanders defense and goaltending.

Now that the Flyers are facing elimination, I expect we’ll see the Flyers that showed some emotion in the final few games of the Montreal series. Philadelphia will be more aggressive and more offensively-minded knowing that its season can end if it doesn’t win. The Islanders will be on the defensive for most of the game, and although they have been good at scoring on few chances, New York won’t be able to keep up with Philadelphia. A rested Carter Hart has one last phenomenal performance left as he backstops Philadelphia to one last win to extend the series. This game is a toss-up at the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, but I’m putting my money on Philadelphia to extend its season in Game 5 at -110 odds.

BET ON PHILADELPHIA FLYERS TO WIN

Game 6 (New York Islanders lead 3-2)

September 3rd, 7 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

The Philadelphia Flyers were forced to overtime to stave off elimination at the hands of the New York Islanders in Game 5 of their second-round series. In a similar fashion to Game 2, Philadelphia held a lead late in the third period, and again allowed the Islanders to storm back and force overtime. It took a little longer to end the proceedings this time with Scott Laughton scoring more than 12 minutes into the extra period, but it’s a bit troubling that Philadelphia cannot hold onto a lead. Both of the Flyers’ victories in this series have come in overtime after allowing New York to seize momentum with a late rally in regulation.

The good news for Philadelphia is that it found ways to score at even strength against Semyon Varlamov, which could be a confidence boost moving forward. The four goals on 32 shots were a step in the right direction for the Flyers, but scoring consistency has been an issue since the actual NHL playoffs have begun. They followed up their four goals in Game 2 with one goal in Game 3 and just two in Game 4, which isn’t going to cut it considering Philadelphia has now allowed at least three goals in six of its last seven games. The Flyers will need to play better defense if it has any chance of pulling off this comeback against the Islanders, and that means staying out of the penalty box and blocking more shots.

New York clearly tried to soak up as much pressure as it could from Philadelphia then release it in short bursts of counter attacks. The Islanders blocked 28 shots, nearly matching the 32 to allowed to reach Varlamov, but it’s a risky game when you’re purposefully playing defensive. We saw the resilience in this squad to battle back to force overtime, but New York needs to do a better job at keeping Philadelphia to the perimeter more consistently or playing more aggressive offensively. The defensive system the Islanders are using continues to work, so it’s not a massive problem to fix, but they also can’t keep giving Philadelphia confidence and puck possession and expect to close out this series.

The Islanders have now lost all three first chances to eliminate an opponent, but they have won the previous two second chances they afforded themselves. They haven’t lost consecutive games since the restart and I doubt that starts now. The NHL betting sites in New Jersey have installed New York as the favorite in Game 6, so the sportsbooks are starting to come around on the Islanders as well. Philadelphia hasn’t proven to me it can score consistently, and the Islanders have at the very least been able to score three goals in every game of this series. That proves to be the difference in my book, so I’m betting on the Islanders in regulation at +148 odds.

BET ON NEW YORK ISLANDERS TO WIN

Game 7 (Series tied 3-3)

September 5th, 7:30 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

For the third time in this series, the Philadelphia Flyers had to go to overtime to beat the New York Islanders, but this time they forced a Game 7 in the process. The Flyers tied the game midway through the third period then won it with five minutes left in the second overtime to overturn a 3-1 series deficit and set up a decisive Game 7 on Saturday. The Islanders dominated the play after the Flyers took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, but New York’s defensive structure lapsed and allowed Philadelphia to overcome two different one-goal deficits.

Philadelphia didn’t get many opportunities in game 6, but when those chances came, the Flyers’ best players answered the call. Perhaps the best sign for the Flyers heading into Game 7 is that Philadelphia’s top-two lines really defended well against New York’s best players and took advantage of the chances they had at the other end. Carter Hart also returned to form a bit in turning aside 49 shots, including 10 of 11 on the power play, but the Flyers also know that four goals against in a Game 7 isn’t going to be good enough to win against the Islanders. Philadelphia needs to be much better defensively to limit New York’s chances and force this game into a battle of skill, something the Flyers probably win on paper.

It was a rough night for New York, who could never really take control of the game on the scoreboard despite controlling possession on the ice for most of the night. Semyon Varlamov wasn’t particularly good in goal and the Islanders only scored once on six power plays in the game, including a vital one in overtime. The 53-31 advantage in shots is nice and New York also forced Philadelphia to block 31 other attempts on goal, but the Islanders have also handed Philadelphia confidence and momentum in this series. New York will need its best defensive effort of the restart if it wants to shut down the Flyers’ offense and return to the conference finals for the first time in 27 years.

The Islanders have started off as decisive favorites at the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, which is a bit of a surprise to me. New York has been the better team in this series, but Philadelphia holds all the momentum and is the top seed in the Eastern Conference. I felt like New York’s defensive structure would be the difference in this series, but it seems like Philadelphia has found ways to crack it in the past two games. As much as I want to lean towards the Flyers in Game 7, though, I’m still brought back to the fact the Islanders have turned around their season in the bubble. I’ll take New York at +133 odds to win in regulation and play Tampa Bay in the conference finals.

BET ON NEW YORK ISLANDERS TO WIN

 

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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