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?
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.
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.
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.
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.