The New York Islanders have pulled off another upset by eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of their Second Round matchup. After the New York Islanders defence seemed to let up in Game 5 and Game 6, they went back to their old ways and shut out the Flyers to reach the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993. However, it isn’t just the defence that deserves recognition here, as the Islanders have been outstanding on all fronts, making them a serious threat moving forward.
New York Islanders Defence Wins Second Round Series
It was a complete lacklustre showing from the Flyers in Game 7 after showing so much promise in games 5 and 6. The team just could not get going, managing just 16 shots in the loss. With a team facing elimination you would think there would be more desperation. However, the New York Islanders defence pulled it together after two mediocre performances and closed out the series for the team.
This was pretty much the story for the Islanders since the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They managed to stifle Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in the First Round, and now have done the same to the Flyers, despite the series being closer overall.
The key to this is the deployment of the defence. The Islanders utilize a pretty even time-share between their defence keeping their legs fresh to stay on top of the opposition. This to go along with an elite Barry Trotz system has managed to allow the Islanders to pull off two upsets in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Islanders Use Goaltending Duo to Defeat Flyers
Not only did the New York Islanders defence cause problems for the Flyers, so did their goaltending. The Islanders managed to get two shutouts from two different goaltenders during the series. It’s rare to watch a team change up goaltenders during the series, however, its a game plan that has worked for the Islanders all year.
Semyon Varlamov opened the series for the Islanders posting a shutout in Game 1. However, Game 2 was a different story as Varlamov was chased in the first period. Thomas Greiss came in with the Islanders trailing 3-0 and made 20 saves on 21 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss. The Islanders split the next two games between the duo coming out victorious in both. With Varlamov coming up short in both Game 5 and Game 6, Trotz went right back to Greiss in Game 7. A gutsy move by the coach, but one that paid off and Greiss got the shutout. Mind you, he didn’t have much work.
The fact that the Islanders feel they can trust both goalies in huge for them moving forward as neither of them should feel fatigued and if one struggles they know they have the other to come in and carry the team to victory.
Islanders Depth Too Much for Flyers
The Islanders have been next to flawless in the postseason as they haven’t had a weak spot. They’re getting great defence and goaltending which was expected, however, their offence is on fire as well. They continued to be hot during this series scoring 24 goals in seven games, averaging more than three goals per game. It’s not just one or two lines doing the damage either. The Islanders are getting production from all four lines which is a big reason as too why they’re doing so well.
The Islanders got points from every single regular in their lineup and 11 different skaters found the back of the net during their most recent seven-game series. Players like Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey didn’t manage to score a goal, put up six and seven assists respectively. Their offence, which is four lines deep, was too much for the Flyers to handle. Brock Nelson led the Islanders in both goals (tied with Anders Lee with four) and points with eight.
Bring On Tampa Bay
The New York Islanders defence is going to get their toughest test yet as they face the highest-scoring team from the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders will enter the series as the underdog, however, the way they’re playing, this series could go either way. It took just five games for the Lightning to knock off the Boston Bruins so they will be well-rested entering the Eastern Conference Final. However, rest sometimes has it’s disadvantages and teams could show some rust. The Islanders will certainly hope to keep the momentum going to get a kick jump on the juggernaut Lightning team. Regardless of how it plays out, we’ll be in for an entertaining series.
Feel Good Story for the Flyers
While the Flyers may not have won the series, their team did get a massive win as they saw the return of Oskar Lindblom. After battling a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma, Lindblom rang the bell in early July to declare himself cancer-free. Lindblom made his return to the lineup in Game 6, further showing how much of a warrior the man truly is. The Flyers used that inspiration to survive Game 6 moving on to a deciding game between the two clubs. Despite not winning the series, this win for the Flyers has to be even more important — seeing a beloved teammate and friend win his battle with cancer and return to the lineup to do what he loves.