New York Islanders

Flyers to host Islanders at PPL Center this preseason

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USA Today Images

Flyers to host Islanders at PPL Center this preseason

For the fourth consecutive year, the Flyers will host a preseason game at PPL Center in Allentown, home of their AHL affiliate Phantoms.

The orange and black will take on the Islanders Friday, Sept. 21, at 7:05 p.m.

Interestingly, the Flyers are 3-0 all-time in Allentown, with two of those wins coming against the Islanders in the 2015 and 2017 preseasons.

If you still haven't made the trek out to the Lehigh Valley for a game at the immaculate PPL Center, here's your perfect chance.

Expect the Flyers' full 2018-19 schedule to be released in late June.

With more questions than answers, what's Flyers' playoff outlook?

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AP Images

With more questions than answers, what's Flyers' playoff outlook?

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers' 5-4 regulation loss Tuesday to the Islanders certainly raised more questions than answers. To their credit, it was the first time Dave Hakstol's team failed to earn a point since a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets on March 15.

Since then, the Flyers have reeled off a 5-1-3 record, but a record that’s rather deceiving. On March 15, the Flyers maintained the third playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division, one point better than the Devils with a four-point cushion on the Panthers.

Now, they’re the second wild-card team behind New Jersey and Florida is still four points out with one game in hand.    

The outlook
Still very good. SportsClubStats.com gives the Flyers a 93 percent chance of reaching the postseason. However, that number's down 5.8 percent following their loss to the Islanders.

The Panthers' tragic number is three, the same number the Flyers need to clinch their playoff berth. Any combination of Flyers wins or Panthers losses would contribute to that outcome.

Better schedule?
The Flyers have a much easier path with home games remaining against the Hurricanes on Thursday and the Rangers Saturday, two teams eliminated from playoff contention. However, the Rangers are planning on starting Henrik Lundqvist against the Flyers.

The Panthers play two of their remaining games against the Bruins (Thursday and Sunday), who are still battling the Lightning for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and one game with the Sabres.

If the Flyers' lead is trimmed to one, or even two, points following Saturday’s games, then the Panthers' regular-season finale Sunday will determine the East's final playoff spot.  

Playoff reservations
I’d have three different reservations in your itinerary with a trip to Washington, Tampa Bay and Boston. According to Sports Club Stats, the Flyers have the greatest chance of meeting the Capitals in the first round at 36.7 percent, followed by the Bruins at 26.7 percent and the Lightning at 10.9 percent.

With Tuesday’s loss, you can be almost certain (if they clinch) the Flyers start the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the road with Game 1 starting Wednesday, April 11, or Thursday, April 12.

Who starts Thursday?
Brian Elliott said after Wednesday’s optional skate he hadn’t ruled out playing Thursday but would certainly prefer to come into a low-pressure situation given no game action since early February. 

Hakstol mentioned he had made a decision in his mind but wouldn’t disclose who he would play against Carolina. Elliott and Alex Lyon were the two goalies on the ice for Wednesday. Michal Neuvirth remains day to day and isn’t an option right now.

It appears to be Petr Mrazek, who has won just three of his previous 14 appearances with a 3.70 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage.

Flyers' huge rally evaporates in seconds during tough loss

Flyers' huge rally evaporates in seconds during tough loss

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Flyers will have to clinch a playoff spot on home ice with their final two games of the regular season at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Islanders outlasted the Flyers, 5-4, at the Barclays Center on Tuesday after the Flyers rallied to tie the game in the third period after trailing, 4-1, through 40 minutes.

New York captain John Tavares led the way with a pair of goals.

Claude Giroux topped the 30-goal mark for the first time in his 11th NHL season. Twenty-eight seconds after he scored, the Flyers surrendered the game-winner.

Five goals were scored by players under the age of 21 (Mathew Barzal had two, Nolan Patrick had two and Anthony Beauvillier had one).

The Flyers will host the Hurricanes Thursday.

• Ron Hextall mentioned Monday how well Shayne Gostisbehere’s defense has improved this season, which has even exceeded the GM’s expectations. “Ghost” was outstanding as he stripped Beauvillier and stick-handled around Barzal to lead a Flyers’ 3-on-2 for Wayne Simmonds’ 24th goal of the season. While Oskar Lindblom exhibited a good deal of patience and Patrick once again flashed tremendous stick work, Gostisbehere made the entire play happen to tie the game at 1-1.

However, Gostisbehere was also guilty of a couple of breakdowns, the most obvious one on Tavares’ second goal.  

• It’s hard to generate a shot when you don’t have the puck on your stick, which was the case for the first 10 minutes of the second period. The Flyers started the first 8:20 without a single shot on net, and were heavily outshot, 17-6, over the 20 minutes. The Flyers looked completely stagnant, while allowing the Islanders to dictate play to go along with second-effort opportunities. It may have been their worst 20 minutes since the 10-game winless streak. Dave Hakstol flipped his lines around unsuccessfully in an effort to generate something offensively.

• The Flyers were getting absolutely killed with skill. Tavares was given all the time in the world on the Islanders' first goal, a power-play tally. Defenseman Radko Gudas was way too over-aggressive in playing the puck along the boards. Calder Trophy favorite Barzal provided a dazzling top-shelf goal and 20-year-old Beauvillier stick handled around the entire Flyers defense to generate a shot that Petr Mrazek appeared to be screened on.

• Somehow the Flyers need to incorporate Patrick on that top power-play unit. He’s just too good and productive and proved so again Tuesday. Patrick provided a tremendous second effort in front of goalie Thomas Greiss to bring the Flyers within 4-2. Credit Jakub Voracek with a perfect pass that Patrick just had to redirect for the goal. Still, Patrick has been an absolute force when utilized on the No. 1 power play.

• In somewhat of a head-scratching decision, Hakstol elected to sit Scott Laughton, a player who actually delivered a solid game against the Bruins, creating chances and generating some speed playing on the left wing. With Michael Raffl ready to return, Laughton was the odd-man out as Hakstol elected to stick with the plodding Jori Lehtera at center, who had no shot of chasing down Barzal on the 5-4 goal. Against the uptempo Islanders, the Flyers needed all the speed they could get on the ice.