New York Islanders: Round 2 Matchup Breakdown

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders will face off against the Philidelphia Flyers in round 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is an intriguing matchup for sure; both teams match up pretty evenly. The Flyers come into this series as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders come into this series as the underdog. Are the Flyers really the best team in the East? Are the Islanders really the underdogs in this series?

Forwards

During the regular season, the Flyers’ forward group was among one of the most dangerous in the league. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, and Kevin Hayes led this group of amazing forwards. Recently though, the Flyers’ top forwards have been slacking in production. Voracek leads the Flyers in points with 8. It’s not like they aren’t producing, they just aren’t living up to expectations.

The Islanders’ forward group is so very confusing. Josh Bailey leads the Isles in points with 10. 8 of those 10 points are assists; Bailey has quietly become one of the best passers left in the playoffs. Other forwards like Anthony Beauvillier, JG Pageau, and Brock Nelson continue to impress. Also, Mat Barzal has recently been picking his play up. I’d still give the advantage to the Flyers, though. The Isles forwards were a little too streaky during the season, but their playoff performances speak for themselves, though.

Defenseman

The Islanders would be the better defensive team even if it was Griffin Reinhart out there with Brian Strait. Barry Trotz makes the Isles the best defensive team. Especially with talented defenders like Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews, the Isles might have the best defensive scheme in all of Hockey. Ryan Pulock has a booming slapper, while Adam Pelech has amazing stick play. Devon Toews is a fast two-way defender, and Scott Mayfield is an enforcer who can kill the power-play. Andy Greene and Nick Leddy are the two oldies who can still hold their own offensively and defensively. Yes, I know the Flyers have Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbhere, but they don’t have Barry Trotz. Isles are better defensively.

Goalies

This is a really even matchup for the goalies. Semyon Varlamov has been nothing short of spectacular as of late. Varlamov currently has a 1.59 GAA and a .935 save percentage with one shutout. Carter Hart has really anchored this Philly team and shown them the power of a good goalie. Hart boasts a 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with two shutouts. This means Varlamov is letting in fewer goals, but Hart is making more saves. This is a tie for me; both goalies are really good. I guarantee that whoever loses this series won’t be blaming it on their goaltender.

Conclusion

This is a good and close series—two teams, who have similar talents, facing off in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Neither team is hungrier than the other. May the best team win, and may the refs not be blind.

Anthony Beauvillier finding another level for the Islanders in postseason so far

New York Islanders

Coming into the 24-team tournament, questions still lingered about which offense would show up for the New York Islanders.

Would it be the one from the first half of the season that helped produced a franchise-record 17-game point streak? Or the one that faded into oblivion and saw very little past one line as the regular season got postponed?

So far, through three games, it’s been a mixed bag with most of the production coming from the middle two lines.

But one of the forwards who has found that next gear and been at the forefront of the attack is Anthony Beauvillier.

The 23-year-old has been a force at both ends of the ice.

Beauvillier, through the series thus far, is tied for the team lead in points with three. His relentless forecheck and tireless backchecking have stood out, making life difficult for Florida while also providing a huge boost for his teammates.

Yesterday it was truly on full display.

In the Isles’ game three loss, his heads up play and hustle— preceding his wicked pass to J.G. Pageau — resulted in the tying goal late in the second period.

“Just tried to get a little forecheck going, it’s better than getting it deep,” Beauvillier told reporters after the game. “I wanted to create something, give the guys some time on the ice. It ended up working out.”

Beauvillier followed that sequence up shortly with a huge defensive play when he made a huge block with his stick on Florida’s Mike Hoffman, who had a prime opportunity to shoot with the Panthers on the man-advantage.

Beauvillier has also seemed to find success on the power play, which was key In the Isles winning the first two games. His absolute ripper off a one-time pass from Devon Toews turned out to be the game-winner in the opening contest. His shooter’s mentality — after he found a little space — led to Jordan Eberle’s insurance goal, which in essence secured the team their 2-0 series.

Taking his game to another level couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for Beauvillier. He’s coming off a career year with 39 points. His spot as a top-six forward in the future plans of the organization is still not solidified. And to top it all off, fans and critics are still trying to figure out whether he could be a reliable two-way forward.

Through the series thus far, he’s answered some of those questions. Beauvillier is having fun — just as it says on his stick — and it’s resulted in he having success.

The Islanders can close out their qualifying series tomorrow with a win. From what he’s accomplished, expect Beauvillier to have another strong performance. Beauvillier looks like a different player right now. An ultra motivated one too. 

He’s found that next level.

Its been a long time coming, and hopefully, it will continue as the Islanders try to go on a deep run this summer.