Round 2, Game 7 Preview: Flyers-Islanders

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It all comes down to this. Game 7 to decide who goes to the Eastern Conference Final and who goes home.

For the Flyers, it has been quite the week to get here. Two overtime victories brought the series back from a 3-1 deficit to a 3-3 tie, forcing the decisive Game 7 on Saturday night.

For the Islanders, they are now with their backs against the wall. After two chances to close out the series, the Islanders now must win or they will go home after holding the 3-1 series lead following play on Sunday night.

If it's anything like the other games in this series, you can expect a close, hard-fought battle to the finish where only one thing is certain: this game will end with handshakes at center ice.

Game 7 is set for 7:30 p.m.

Team Leaders

Philadelphia Flyers GP G A P New York Islanders GP G A P
Kevin Hayes 15 4 9 13 Josh Bailey 15 2 13 15
Scott Laughton 14 5 4 9 Mathew Barzal 15 5 8 13
Jake Voracek 14 4 5 9 Brock Nelson 15 6 6 12
Sean Couturier 14 2 7 9 Anthony Beauvillier 15 7 4 11
Ivan Provorov 15 3 5 8 Jordan Eberle 15 3 7 10
 
Player to Watch
28 Claude Giroux 13 Mathew Barzal
Last 5 Games: 1 G, 3 A, 4 P, +4 Last 5 Games: 2 G, 3 A, 5 P, -2
 
Claude Giroux may not be the Flyers most impactful player anymore, but much has been discussed about the captain's legacy, primarily due to a lack of production and a lack of wins in the postseason. This is a chance for Giroux to write another chapter of his legacy, one where he will be the leader and captain of a team to complete an epic comeback, much like he was a small part of another epic comeback 10 years earlier. For a lot of Flyers, this game is one of their first chances to flirt with some history and destiny, but for Giroux, this could be one of the most defining games of his career.
 
Following a scary eye injury in Game 5, Mathew Barzal not only returned for Game 6, but was the Islanders best player. With his speed and skill on full display, it was no surprise he contributed with a goal and an assist and looked poised at multiple times to end the series. A Game 7 is where you need your best players to be at their best and Barzal can certainly deliver on that. 
 
Projected Goalie Matchup
79 Carter Hart 1 Thomas Greiss
13 GP, 9-4-0, 2.17 GAA, .929 SV% 2 GP, 1-1-0, 1.68 GAA, .949 SV%

Same story as in Game 5, if not for Carter Hart, the Flyers season is already over. Hart was spectacular, especially in the third period and overtime, stopping the last 25 shots that came his way and finishing the game with 49 saves on 53 shots. Hart will be in goal again, as the Flyers look for one more stellar performance from the 22-year-old netminder to help get them to the conference final.

Barry Trotz said there would be lineup changes, and this would be the most obvious change that could be made. Semyon Varlamov had allowed four goals on 17 shots to the Flyers in Game 6 and has struggled since getting the night off for Game 4. That night, Thomas Greiss essentially stole a game and gave the Islanders a 3-1 series lead. Greiss has made both of his postseason appearances in this series, coming on in relief in Game 2 and winning Game 4. He has allowed just three goals on 59 shots in that time, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the Islanders turn things over to him in the deciding Game 7.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Left Wing Center Right Wing
28 Claude Giroux 21 Scott Laughton 93 Jake Voracek
25 James van Riemsdyk 13 Kevin Hayes 11 Travis Konecny
23 Oskar Lindblom 38 Derek Grant 18 Tyler Pitlick
12 Michael Raffl 44 Nate Thompson 62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Defense    
9 Ivan Provorov 15 Matt Niskanen  
6 Travis Sanheim 5 Phil Myers  
8 Robert Hagg 61 Justin Braun  
Goalie    
79 Carter Hart 37 Brian Elliott  

Islanders Projected Lineup

Left Wing Center Right Wing
27 Anders Lee 13 Mathew Barzal 7 Jordan Eberle
18 Anthony Beauvillier 29 Brock Nelson 12 Josh Bailey
10 Derick Brassard 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau 47 Leo Komarov
17 Matt Martin 53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck
Defense    
3 Adam Pelech 6 Ryan Pulock  
25 Devon Toews 24 Scott Mayfield  
2 Nick Leddy 4 Andy Greene  
Goalie    
1 Thomas Greiss 40 Semyon Varlamov  

Lineup Notes

  • Flyers: Obviously, the same questions remain regarding the Flyers lineup. Are either Sean Couturier or Joel Farabee healthy enough to participate in this deciding Game 7? Both not only missed Game 6, but did not take warmups or the morning skate, so a lot remains to be seen as warmups get closer. There's also the question about Oskar Lindblom's usage, given that the Flyers wanted to ease him back into a game setting and he played 17:30 of a double-overtime game.
  • Islanders: Trotz said there will be lineup changes, but would not elaborate. This could be nothing more than making a change in goal or it could be changes to forward or defense, like the re-insertion of Ross Johnston or bringing Johnny Boychuk into the lineup on the blue line.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (23rd), Islanders (11th)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (16th), Islanders (13th)
  • Recent History vs. Islanders
    • Oct. 27, 2019 – Islanders 5, Flyers 3 (at NYI)
    • Nov. 16, 2019 – Islanders 4, Flyers 3 (F/SO) (at PHI)
    • Feb. 11, 2020 – Islanders 5, Flyers 3 (at NYI)
    • Aug. 24, 2020 (Game 1) – Islanders 4, Flyers 0
    • Aug. 26, 2020 (Game 2) – Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (F/OT)
    • Aug. 29, 2020 (Game 3) – Islanders 3, Flyers 1
    • Aug. 30, 2020 (Game 4) – Islanders 3, Flyers 2
    • Sept. 1, 2020 (Game 5) – Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (F/OT)
    • Sept. 3, 2020 (Game 6) – Flyers 5, Islanders 4 (F/2OT)
  • Flyers Leaders vs. Islanders (Career Regular Season Stats)
    • Claude Giroux – 52 GP, 18 G, 38 A, 56 P
    • Jake Voracek – 42 GP, 6 G, 27 A, 33 P
    • James van Riemsdyk – 37 GP, 11 G, 17 A, 28 P
    • Sean Couturier – 37 GP, 10 G, 18 A, 28 P
    • Matt Niskanen – 38 GP, 4 G, 14 A, 18 P
    • Carter Hart – 2 GP, 0-2-0, 6.23 GAA, .833 SV%

Where to Watch
TV: NBCSN
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic/97.3 ESPN

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