That isn’t exactly how the Flyers would like to remember their final game at the run-down Nassau Coliseum. After combining for just one shootout goal in November, a combined 11 goals were registered in the afternoon matinee. Unfortunately for Philly, seven of those goals belonged to the Isles, who took the final Nassau meeting between the two teams, 7-4.
Contenders vs. Pretenders
If the standings weren’t enough to illustrate the discrepancy between the Flyers and Islanders in speed, depth, and overall success, Saturday’s affair hammered the message home.
The Isles combined speed and physicality to register 41 shots on net, as they chased Rob Zepp from goal en route to their league-leading 31st win of the season. With the win, the team on Long Island is now guaranteed the Metropolitan Division’s top spot heading into the All-Star break.
Strong defense, strong goaltending, opportunistic chances, better special teams play, the list goes on and on as Jack Capuano’s Isles spanked Craig Berube’s Flyers, 7-4. — Tim Panaccio, CSN Philly
Despite goals from Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Claude Giroux, and Chris VandeVelde, Isles goalie Jaroslav Halak improved his record to 25-9-0, while standing victorious against the Flyers for the fourth straight time.
As you could imagine, the Isles peppered the inside of Philadelphia’s net, despite being outshot by a 14-9 mark in the first period.
Nikolay Kulimen, Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Nick Leddy, and Anders Lee were New York’s goal scoring culprits, cuing the “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chants from the hometown crowd.
The Islanders have now scored seven goals twice this season, last doing so in a 7-5 win over Dalls on Oct. 25. It’s hard to believe these are the same two teams from a season ago.
Grabner Skates and Scores
Playing in only his 12th game of the season, Michael Grabner snapped a six-game goalless streak 1:32 into the game. Grabner’s quick strike set the tone for New York’s scoring barrage, and improved the Isles’ record when scoring first to 17-9-1.
Grabner’s opening tally was pure demonstration of the Islanders’ speed, as the 27-year-old flew right past Carlo Colaiacovo before easily netting his fourth goal of the season.
No Cooling Off Kulemin
Nikolay Kulemin would follow up with a goal shortly Grabner’s, giving the Isles their first two goals on their first five shots. Kulemin’s first period goal was the first of a three-point day, which included another goal for the former Maple Leaf.
The Russian forward may have entered Saturday’s tilt with only nine goals, but his pair of marks against the Flyers now give Kulimen five in as many games.
Kulimen’s 11th, and second goal of the day, was notched shorthanded. It was also Philadelphia’s fourth shorty allowed on the season.
“I think he’s one of the guys that fits in perfectly for us because we’re one of those teams that likes to grind teams down,” said Isles coach Jack Capuano a week ago. “He is one of those guys that chips pucks, retrieves pucks, converges on the net. He does everything that our coaching staff wants him to do and we knew that. He was a guy that we targeted and he’s come in and played really well in our system.”
No, Our Penalty Kill is Worse
The Flyers have now played the 29th (Buffalo) and 28th (Islanders) ranked penalty kill units in consecutive games. And after capitalizing with two power play tallies against the Sabres’ 73.8 percent kill on Saturday, Philly would add another on Saturday, going 1-for-3 on the man advantage.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Isles reciprocated the favor when John Tavares deposited his 21st goal of the season.
Tavares’ patient backhander past Ray Emery – who relieved starter Rob Zepp – was the 42nd power play goal allowed by one of the most miserable penalty kills in recent memory.
Just how bad has the Flyers PK been? Consider the fact that they’re on pace for the worst penalty killing efficiency in two decades. That’s beyond embarrassing. It’s teetering on impressive – in a bad way, of course.
With his eighth point in his last eight games, Mark Streit continued his scoring ways on Monday with a second period power play goal.
Mark Streit scored a power-play at 9:07 of the second to assure that the Flyers wouldn’t be shut out in their final two games at Nassau Coliseum. — Randy Miller, NJ.com
Streit’s 33 points now catapults him to fourth in league scoring among defensemen, one point ahead of Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. The former Isles captain now has seven goals on the campaign, with four of them now coming via the power play.
Emery’s Tough Break
Much like the Flyers, Ray Emery has certainly seen better days. Not only was his last win on Dec. 23, the veteran backup received his fifth straight loss after allowing two goals on 20 shots. Despite entering a 4-1 game in relief of Rob Zepp, Emery gets the loss since the Isles’ fifth goal would stand as the game-winning goal.
“You’re always disappointed when you get pulled,’’ said Zepp after his fifth straight tour of action since being called up for a second time this season. “That’s just how it goes sometimes.’’
You'd have to think Berube was planning to go with Emery tomorrow vs. Pittsburgh. Think he still will.
— Sarah Baicker (@sbbaicker) January 19, 2015
After winning three of his first four starts, Zepp has now allowed seven goals on 47 shots over the course of his last two appearances.
As a result of Zepp’s latest showing, Emery received his ninth regulation loss of the season, dropping his overall record to 7-9-1. Hurry back, Steve Mason.
With 11 goals scored in Monday afternoon’s showing, there were plenty of points to go around. And just as they did on the scoreboard, the Islanders touted an advantage with three multi-point scorers to Philadelphia’s two.
Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn earned multiple points for the Flyers, while Nikolay Kulemin, John Taveres, and Johnny Boychuk represented the Islanders in the same department.
Brayden Schenn’s pair of assists ended a three-game pointless streak, which began after a two-point outing on Jan. 12 against Tampa Bay. Voracek, on the other hand, will get his due credit later in the Jake Voracek Watch.
Boychuk’s multi-point day capped off the former Bruins defenseman’s birthday. Boychuk’s two assists, coupled with New York’s win, adds to his celebration of turning 31.
Blue Line Band Aids
The somber mood surrounding the Flyers right now isn’t just a result of losing another game. The unforgiving injury bug bit again on Monday, sinking its teeth into an already shallow defensive corps. After losing Niklas Grossmann and Braydon Coburn in previous weeks, Carlo Colaiacovo’s name now joins the list.
On the flip side, Carlo Colaiacovo was injured in the third period. Just sucks for the guy, who had finally gotten back into the lineup. The Flyers are down another defenseman and Carlo has injury history on his left leg, which is where he appeared to get hurt. Sigh. — Travis Hughes, Broad Street Hockey
I thought Carlo Colaiacovo was playing well since re-entering the lineup. Hope the injury isn't too severe. Tough year for the veteran.
— Tim Riday (@TimRiday) January 19, 2015
The Flyers will likely be forced to call up Brandon Manning from Lehigh Valley for a second time this season. The AHL All-Star has an assist in the only two games he appeared in this season.
Colaiacovo, however, has been known for his inability to stay healthy. Getting posterized by Grabner in the first period makes it safe to assume this Martin Luther King Day won’t be fondly looked back on by the Toronto native.
Jake Voracek Watch
Thanks to his 17th multi-point game of the season, Jake Voracek still enjoys a three-point cushion at the front of the NHL scoring race. The former Blue Jacket collected points 54 and 55 on the season, staying ahead of Dallas’ Tyler Seguin, who has 52 points in 45 games.
Jakub Voracek now has a career-high 17 multi-point games this season. Only had 16 multi-point games all of last season. #Flyers
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 19, 2015
Teammate Claude Giroux, on the hand, now falls five points back of Voracek, despite gunning in his 15th goal of the season on Monday. The captain’s goal wasn’t scored in vain, however. With 50 points, Giroux is now tied with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin for fourth in scoring.
Bowling for Penguins
After dropping three out of their last four games, the Flyers will play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night. After winning their previous showdown in Pittsburgh back in October, the Flyers have now downed the Pens in their last five consecutive meetings, including a 4-0-0 2014 calendar sweep.
Philly has scored four or more goals in four of their last five games against Pittsburgh, outscoring the Pens by a 19-10 margin. At 26-12-6, Pittsburgh sits just two points ahead of the New York Rangers for fifth in the Eastern Conference with 58 points.
I'm totally fine with the islanders winning this game. As long as the flyers beat the pens than im ok with it
— ❤ Patricia Newton ❤ (@patricia_rene) January 19, 2015
The Penguins will be desperate to exercise their Flyers demons, last beating them on Oct. 17, 2013. Fortunately for them, that win came at the Wells Fargo Center.
Regardless, the Flyers have charged the Penguins rent for living in their own heads. Tuesday, that rent is due again. Whether or not the Pens will continue to pay it is yet to be determined.
Andy is a contributor for The Hockey Writers, covering the Philadelphia Flyers. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Walsh University. He enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and reading. He is married with a daughter. You can follow Andy on Twitter @ADudones.