The New York Islanders come out flat and drop Game 2 to the Philadelphia Flyers. Let’s look at this loss from two distinct angles.
The New York Islanders haven’t done much losing since entering the bubble in Toronto. Entering Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Isles were 7-2 with the only two losses coming against teams on the brink of elimination.
Of course, the Islanders stormed back in the third period and tied the game at three, but Philly won on a Phillipe Myers goal less than three minutes into overtime.
A loss is a loss, but here are two ways Islanders fans can view the Game 2 defeat.
Few Islanders fans were expecting Semyon Varlamov to stand on his head this postseason. Sure, he’s an above-average goalie who is capable of getting hot, but he wasn’t expected to stand out the way he was in the team’s last two series.
Although it helps to have a stout defense in front, he was still making huge saves left and right. The Islanders would not be where they are right now without his major contributions. In fact, he set the record for the longest scoreless playoff streak for any Islanders goaltender less than a minute into the game.
With that said, the first period of Game 2 should be concerning. Just after setting the franchise record, Hayes beat him short side to open the scoring. Hayes would beat him on that same side later on and Couturier made him look silly on the third goal in the period. The cracks are starting to show in Varlamov’s game and if his hot streak is over, the Isles will have their hands full against the Flyers for the rest of this series.
It’s not all on Varlamov. The defense needed to be better in front of him. However, that doesn’t change the fact that any Stanley Cup contender needs their goalie to cover for the defense from time to time.
OK, Varlamov wasn’t great in Game 2, but he’s been rock solid all postseason long. Let’s not overreact to one bad period. Instead, let’s focus on the resiliency of the entire team. Down 3-0 with the Flyers coming at them full tilt, the Isles slowly, but surely clawed their way back into the game.
The Captain, Anders Lee, gave the Islanders a shot of life in the second period off of a beautiful assist from Mathew Barzal. Anthony Beauvillier continued his hot streak with a pretty third-period goal and Jean-Gabriel Pageau knotted the score at three with just over two minutes left in the game.
After going down big, the Isles responded. It’s unfortunate that Philly pulled the win out in overtime, but if nothing else, this shows that the Isles will never go down without a fight.
There are changes coming to the lineup and possibly the overall team scheme on both sides. A seven-game series is a chess match between head coaches and the Islanders are better off in that regard. Barry Trotz is two years removed from lifting the Stanley Cup. That’s not to take away anything from Alain Vigneault, but the Isles have the coaching advantage.
This was always going to be a long series that goes six or seven games. The Islanders have the chance to wrest back control of the series on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET).