Anymore nowadays I don't really see the Islanders coming up on our schedule and figure the tilt to be a win automatically. It's true, the Isles haven't won in Philadelphia since the 2006-07 season, but we're all aware how that could change at the drop of a hat. Especially since both games versus these two clubs this season have ended in one goal decisions.
You've got your players like Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, John Tavares and Matt Moulson who at any moment could steal the game's spotlight and turn it into their show.
But it's skaters like PA Parenteau that make me worry.
Coming off a 3 - 0 win against the Capitals in Washington just this past Tuesday, Parenteau potted two of the three goals which has given him 11-points in his last 10-games. He's not leading his club with goals-scored by any means (3 G, 30 A), but lately the Flyers have allowed some goals off the sticks of guys who generally don't light the lamps often.
Take our win against the Wild on Tuesday -- Darroll Powe put the puck on a rope from way outside the slot which managed to bury itself over Bryzgalov's shoulder. That was Powe's fourth goal of the season, which snapped a double-digit game scoreless drought.
Jerome Samson wristed a power-play goal for the Carolina Hurricanes nine days ago. His first of the 2011-12 season, and his one and only NHL goal of his career.
Bobby Butler for the Senators netted his fourth of the season against us back on January 7th.
And if you can remember back far enough, both Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw contributed to the Blackhawks' side of the scoreboard two Thursdays ago. Hayes scored his second of the season while Shaw (called up and filling in for the injured Carcillo) successfully buried his first in his career.
So am I worried about the habitual scorers like Moulson and Tavares? Sure. Shut them down and you've got a better chance to increase the home-winning streak against the Islanders.
But it's Parenteau who stands out the most right now. At least for me. It's always these wily guys who see their names on the score sheet less often than Washington sees the Eastern Conference Finals. Then again, Parenteau does lead his team with a whopping 30-assists which means this kid's got eyes on all sides of his head.
In their last meeting, the Islanders lead in both the hitting and shots column but the Flyers still managed to skate away with two points. New York's road record this season is a travesty -- Standing at 7-10-3 mixed with the fact they haven't walked from the Well with a win in five years, all odds are in Philadelphia's favor but no one should take that for granted.
One of the keys to winning against us, Isles bench boss Jack Capuano says, is "We have to stay disciplined for sure and keep them off the power play."
Speaking of discipline, an incident that comes to mind right away has to be that jaw-hunting elbow Steve Staois threw on Max Talbot last time they met --
Many believe revenge is needed. The NHL took a look at the play but decided against any suspension or fine for Staois which has given the Flyers the full capability to police the issue themselves.
"Start Shelley! He'll take a run at that chump!"
Well, as Travis Hughes points out, Shelley will more than likely not get the chance to drop the mitts with Staois this evening. That's if Shelley even starts over a still-injured Zac Rinaldo.
Steve Staois skates on the blue line's first pairing for the Isles while Shelley is always a bottom front liner. Those two meeting on the ice on the same shifts is enough of a rarity, but it's even more unlikely that Staois would waste five minutes in the box to share fists with Jody. It wouldn't be worth it to him or the Islanders.
Instead we've got plenty of skaters to answer to Staois, and that includes Max himself. We know Talbot's not one to shy away from a little 1-on-1 --
In net for the Flyers tonight is Sergei Bobrovsky. Usually once we see this kid between the pipes the game after Bryzgalov got the nod, we'd think it was because of Ilya's piss-poor outing.
Nay, my friends.
Bryz stopped the pucks against Minnesota on Tuesday night, except for the shot taken on him by Powe which should of been saved, no question. Nevertheless, Bryz's form looked good and the defense played great in front of him. Just the mix we need and hope to see on a consistent basis.
But it's Bobrovsky's record versus the Islanders that's given him the start tonight (7-0-0 with a 1.86 goals-against average in eight appearances), not to mention his incredible 33-for-35 save performance he had on them last time. Bryzgalov will rest and save his strength for the back-to-back games this weekend against the Devils and Bruins, which is an enormous test for Ilya and his confidence.
There's that word -- "Confidence".
You know who's got it? Sean Couturier's got it.
Out of all the rookies, the veterans, the moves we made in the off-season, the dramatic head-shaking in net, and whatever else.....Sean Couturier's role and success on this Flyers team has been the biggest surprise of the season to me.
Prior to the 2011-12 schedule beginning, I swore Cooter wasn't ready for the NHL. Of course I know I'm not a scout and haven't made a living (or even a hobby) analyzing the undrafted talents in the CHL, but I was concerned about Sean's speed (or lack thereof) and how he troubled with using his immense size around on the ice.
No one, in this case, enjoys being more wrong than me.
Cooter's been brilliant lately. Not just defensively which has earned him an early comparison to the ex-Flyer Mike Richards, but his offensive prowess has grown and burst through the seams. He's scored 5-goals in his last 5-games. And we're not talking about garbage goals either, folks --
"I think what's been impressive about his last few games is his shot in general," Laviolette said. "The goals that he's scored, they're goal-scorers' goals. He's showed poise and patience and then when he released it, he released it on the money."
Don't miss puck drop tonight at 7:00pm, CSN. Hopefully Cooter extends that streak of his, and Steve Staois gets battered like the filthy bitch he is.
Steve Staois is a healthy scratch this evening. Dylan Reese will dress.