The New York Islanders have taken a 2-1 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers after winning Game 3, 3-1 on Saturday night. Semyon Varlamov bounced back after getting yanked in Game 2 to allow just one goal on 27 shots in Game 3. The New York Islanders defence went into their defensive shell after taking a 3-1 lead early in the third period and managed to stifle the Flyers offensive not allowing them to get much going at all. This has been the story so far in this series.
New York Islanders Defence the Key So Far in Series
Entering the series, at first glance you see a high powered defensive team in the Islanders vs a high powered offensive team in the Flyers. However, the Flyers offence did not show up against the Montreal Canadiens in the First Round, and the story continues for them in the Second Round.
As mentioned in the series preview, the road wasn’t going to get any easier for the Flyers as the New York Islanders defence is even better than the Canadiens. However, once again, the Flyers cannot find a way to score, mustering just five goals in the first three games of the series. This puts the Flyers up to a total of 16 goals in nine games during the first two rounds. The Islanders already have 10 goals themselves in the first three games of this series, so it’s safe to say the Flyers offence is really letting them down in the postseason.
The key to the New York Islanders defence is their timeshare. They have a solid group that has no weaknesses. They all averaged over 17 minutes per game and their highest average is just under 22 which is both Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech. So they’re not leaning on one player or pairing much more than any of the others. This has kept the legs fresh, allowing them to continue to frustrate the Flyers offence.
Varlamov Outdueling Hart
So far, Semyon Varlamov has been outdueling Carter Hart. Both goalies had an outstanding First Round series, however, its Varlamov coming out on top in this one. Despite being pulled in Game 2, Varlamov has allowed just four goals in the three games. Varly has a goals-against-average of 1.79 and a save percentage of .939 with one shutout. Hart, on the other hand, has yet to allow less than three goals in a game so far this series. He has a goals-against-average of 3.03 and a save percentage of .901. A far cry from the magnificent numbers he posted against the Canadiens. Hart will need to step up his game if the Flyers want to have any chance of coming back and winning the series.
All Hands Contributing for the Islanders
The bigger news for the Islanders is that their offence has continued its hot play from the First Round. Lead by Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle who all have three points in three games, the Islanders are having everyone contribute. As it stands, only four players have yet to register a point for the Islanders out of the 19 who have drawn into the lineup. Two of them being Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, who don’t focus on trying to score goals, rather than keep the opposition from scoring them as well as wearing them out with their aggressive, hard-hitting style of play.
It’s not what you expect from the Islanders who were one of the lowest-scoring teams in the regular season. However, they’re finding a way to get it done. Even overcoming adversity after going down 3-0 in the first period of Game 2 and finding a way to come back and send the game to overtime just shows how composed this group is. It’s helping this team put together an almost flawless postseason thus far playing well in every aspect of the game.
Flyers Stars Still Missing in Action
What continues to be the most surprising storyline for the Flyers is how their top players are still M.I.A. Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have combined for two points in three games, and Konecny has only two points so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Entering the postseason, no one could have possibly seen the Flyers offence dry up like this. They were the hottest team in the league before the NHL paused its season due to COVID-19. And especially after they scored 11 goals in the round-robin play going 3-0 to secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers need more from their stars if they hope to continue their quest for the Stanley Cup.
Tale of Two Completely Different Teams
After three games, we see a tale of two totally different teams. The Islanders are firing on all cylinders, scoring at least three goals in every game and everyone chipping in. While also playing excellent defence and getting solid goaltending from Varlamov. The Flyers have been the complete opposite. They still haven’t been able to find their scoring touch. Their defence has not been near as good as it was against the Canadiens, and Carter Hart has looked mediocre over the first three games.
If the Flyers want to have any chance of getting back into this series, they need to tighten up defensively. They’re not going to be able to run up the score on the elite defensive system the Islanders play. The only way they’ll succeed is to grind out low scoring victories as they did against Montreal. On the bright side for the Flyers, they don’t need to wait long to try to bounce back from their Game 3 defeat as Game 4 comes to us on Sunday night.