Two teams with a daringly equal chance. The Eastern Conference Finals is the prize. This is what playoff hockey is all about.
For the first time since 1987, the Islanders and Flyers will battle it out. Of course, this best of seven second round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is bound to have surprises. The Islanders’ only losing record against a Metropolitan Division team is against their current opponents. They are 1-3 against the Flyers all time.
New York Islanders
In a series expected to be dominated by the Washington Capitals, the Islanders came out flying and easily out-classed them. In fairness, Barry Trotz had the coaching edge. He was capable of using his knowledge of the Capitals’ weaknesses against them. Subsequently, the Islanders took advantage of this and executed to perfection under a well-structured defensive system. However, they had superb offensive technique, so one thing alone cannot take all the credit.
One of the keys to this matchup for the Isles is focusing on limiting Philadelphia’s odd-man rushes and physical style of play. If they’re capable of keeping a good balance of forecheck and defense, they have a great shot at being the victors.
The story for the Flyers has been Carter Hart all along, and they’ll need nothing short of a spectacular performance from him to stay alive. The Islanders have been known to have many chances at or near the crease. Additionally, they have an impeccable ability to find open zones and create spaces in front of the net.
Another important factor for Philadelphia is their mental state going into this matchup. They were swept in the season series by the Islander, going 0-3. If they go into game one with the belief that they have little to no chance at winning, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. However, they seem to have grown as a team since that time.
The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs starts tonight with the Flyers favored to take the series at -120 with the Islanders at +100.