Day 9: Back in the Metro
The Islanders wrap up one of the most successful road runs in team history Saturday, as they close out their six-game trip in Philadelphia. The Islanders tied a club record with 16 points in nine road games and, having already won four-of-five games on their current trip, are setting the pace in the suddenly-hot Metropolitan Division.
As positive as the trip has been, Saturday’s tilt in Philadelphia is the most important game of the road swing, as the Islanders face the second-place team in the Metro standings.
A win, or pair of wins, in the home-and-home set, which concludes Monday at 1 p.m., closes the gap dramatically. After the Flyers games, the Metro teams keep coming; the Islanders head back to Madison Square Garden for a date with the Rangers and then host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
Playing outside the division has been a breeze for the Islanders, who are 9-1-0 in their last 10 against non-Metro teams. It’s been a different tale inside the division, but the Islanders have been a different team over the past few weeks since beating the Rangers on Dec. 20.
The Islanders are getting big contributions from first-year players Kevin Poulin, Calvin de Haan and Brock Nelson. Poulin has won six-of-seven appearances, de Haan had a career-best five-game point streak until last night and Nelson has scored timely goals during this run, including a game-tying goal Jan. 10 against Colorado.
The top line has been among the best in the league, as the trio of John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo have combined for 35 points over the past nine road games. Tavares (4g/8a) and Okposo (7g/5a) each have 12 points while Vanek has 11 (3g/8a) in that span.
Unlike the last time the Islanders landed in Philly, the Isles are one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, having won eight-of-10, as well as eight-of-nine on the road. It’s been a fun ride for the Islanders, but it’s time to bring that free-wheeling road attitude back to the gridlock of the Metropolitan.
The Islanders left Tampa Bay today at 2 p.m. and landed in Philadelphia around 4 p.m. The team did not practice today and has scheduled a morning skate for Saturday morning in Philly.