New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Isles look to earn fourth consecutive home win
Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:00 AM / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
(Answer from 01/10: 15 games. The Isles have gone 15 games without a loss three times. The first streak lasted from Nov. 4-Dec.4, 1980 with the team going 13-0-2 starting with the victory over Detroit.)
|Team Record: 15-19-6
Last Game: 5-1 W vs. DET
Season Series: 0-0-1 of 6
|Team Record: 25-12-4
Last Game: 2-1 W @ CAR
Season Series: 1-0-0 of 6
In 33 games this season, the play of Steve Staios has spoken more than his five assists. The first thing Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano always points towards are Staios' leadership abilities. However, he's also the perfect defensemen to help take on the physical Flyers.
When the Isles' opponents get in on the forecheck, Staios doesn't back down. He gets into the corners and grinds it out, matching their strength.
"On the ice, he really picks his spots on how he defends," Capuano said. "He flat bodies at the right time. He’s in blocking lanes all the time. He’s got a good stick. He’s a cagey veteran guy that plays defense a certain way. I like the way that he plays and he defends. He’s making a good first pass, and the last couple games he’s been activating and getting into the rush as well."
Returning from a concussion on Dec. 31, Staios said that he's started to feel more comfortable with his game in recent days.
"I felt a little rusty the first couple games back, but I feel like I’m back to form now," Staios said. "I’ve been feeling like I’m doing the right things to add to the team and I want to continue to build on that."
| Claude Giroux
The Flyers top-line center is truly coming of age, and last season, his second full season in the NHL, he posted 25 goals and 51 assists for 76 points. In the first half of 2011-12, he's only grown, with more than a point-per-game (18 goals and 30 assists in 37 games). According to Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette, Giroux he continues to improve as he gains experience.
"He went from being a good player when I got here to being maybe our top player in the playoffs when we went on the run to being our top player in the regular season last year," Laviolette said Tuesday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. "I think he's evolving into one of the NHL's best players. He's certainly talented. His work ethic is unbelievable and I think the experience he's gained has made him a better player."
Giroux and his linemates, Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell, have been kept off the Flyers' scoresheet for the last three games, but it's not something that has Laviolette worried.
"I guess there's no real reason for it, but I can tell you they probably won't be held off the score sheet for too long," Laviolette said.
The Philadelphia Flyers are always a tough matchup for the Isles, especially over the last four seasons (2-20-5 record). But after starting the season 6-9-3 on home ice, the Islanders have recorded three consecutive home wins, which brought them back to .500 hockey at home.
Though scoring is an important part of any win, playing strong defensively will be one of the biggest keys to the Islanders success against the Flyers on Thursday night.
"Our games have been close," Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. "I remember the first game here, we were up and ended up losing that game in OT. We had the 3-1 lead and (Danny) Briere scored in overtime. It tells you something about Philadelphia, and elite teams in this league, that five seconds can cost you a game. We have to make sure that when we jump on the ice, that we are jumping on with a purpose and we’re making a difference."
Having confidence will make all the difference. However, Capuano and Islanders defenseman Steve Staios both talked about the importance of playing strong defense and having a solid transition game.
"When you play a big physical team you have to make sure that you get back and support your partner to be able to break the puck out," Staios said. "You have to be willing to go into the corners and do those types of things. In games that we are successful, we finish our checks, block shots and do those intangible things. That’s something that is going to help us (Thursday night)."
A game after continuing their surprising domination of a perennial Stanley Cup contender, the New York Islanders hope to end their misery against another.
The Islanders have won only once in the past 23 meetings with the Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia Flyers heading into Thursday night's matchup at Nassau Coliseum.
Philadelphia is looking to beat one of the league's worst teams for a second straight game, having defeated Carolina 2-1 on Tuesday.
While only the Hurricanes have fewer points in the East than the Islanders (15-19-6), only two teams in the conference have more than the Flyers (25-12-4). (Continue Reading)
The Islanders and Flyers kicked off their six-game season series Nov. 23 at Nassau Coliseum. Andre Meszaros notched a goal 18 seconds off the opening faceoff, but the Islanders notched three consecutive first period goals (Kyle Okposo had 2 and Michael Grabner had the third) to take a 3-1 lead at the end of 20 minutes. However, Scott Hartnell would score in the second and Danny Briere would even the score with 5:42 to go in the third. Briere notched his second of the night at 2:34 of overtime to lift the Flyers to a 4-3 victory.
IslandersPower Play %: 20.2%
Penalty Kill %: 83.5%
Home Record: 9-9-3
Road Record: 6-10-3
Goals For: 96
Goals Against: 126
FlyersPower Play %: 18.9%
Penalty Kill %: 82.2%
Home Record: 10-6-2
Road Record: 15-6-2
Goals For: 139
Goals Against: 122
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Head Coach Jack Capuano said lineup remains the same.
Flyers (Expected) LineupsForwards: Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr, Talbot-Briere-Voracek, van Riemsdyk-Schenn-Simmonds, Rinaldo-Couturier-Read
Defensemen: Timonen-Coburn, Bourdon-Carle, Lilja-Meszaros
Goaltenders: Bryzgalov, Bobrovsky
Expected scratches: Shelley, Zolnierczyk, Gustafsson
Islanders defenseman Steve Staios on defeating the Detroit Red Wings 5-1: "It felt great. To beat a top team like that, it should provide us with some confidence going forward. They provide a lot of challenges. They have a high skill level. It just goes to show that when we get to our game, we forecheck the way that we do and we back pressure the way that we do, getting in shooting lanes, blocking shots, those types of things, we can play with any team in the league."
Cory Wright contributed to this report