The Islanders have speed, a commitment to defense and gave the Flyers more problems this season than the Canadiens did. This should be a long series, though maybe not as physical and nasty like what the Flyers saw out of Montreal in the first round. But give it time.
Here are 20 things to know about the sixth-seeded Islanders:
1. The Flyers lost all three meetings against the Islanders this season, twice in regulation, once in a shootout. They were outscored, 13-9. New York erased a 3-0 deficit in the third period in November.
2. This will be the fifth postseason meeting for these two longtime division rivals, but the first in 33 years. The Flyers won three of the previous four series, but New York won the big one: the 1980 (cough, Leon Stickle) Stanley Cup Finals.
3. Mathew Barzal had five points against the Flyers and Ryan Pulock had the two game-winning goals. Barzal won the shootout, but there’s no GWG for shootout winners.
4. Trivia: Barzal was the Calder winner two years ago, becoming the fifth Islander to win the NHL’s rookie of the year. Collect one free chiclet for each of the other four you can name. Hint: three played during the ’80s dynasty.
Game 1: Monday, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Game 2: Wednesday, 3 p.m. (NBCSN)
Game 3: Thursday, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Game 4: Saturday, Aug. 29, noon (NBC)
*Game 5: Monday, Aug. 31
*Game 6: Wednesday, Sept. 2
*Game 7: Thursday, Sept. 3
5. “We knew what kind of hockey team they are over there and how they can be very frustrating to play against,” said Capitals’ star John Carlson after the Islanders made quick work of Washington in five games.
6. Anthony Beauvillier was taken four picks after the Flyers took Travis Konecny at 24 in the 2015 draft. Beauvillier, who has been terrific in the postseason with a team-best six goals, was -11 during the regular season.
7. Make it -12 to include a failed, but humorous attempt on Twitter to strike up a conversation with actress Anna Kendrick on Christmas Day. After seeing a tweet from Beauvillier saying “Hi” to Kendrick, his fans attempted to boost his character by telling Kendrick that the young Islanders star saves grandmothers from coyotes, does heart surgery in his spare time and feeds orphans in third-world countries. Alas, Kendrick, who is 12 years older than Beauvillier, has a boyfriend.
8. Veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk has not played since Aug. 1 because of an injury. Not that he’s been missed.
9. The Islanders have given up 1.67 goals per in their nine playoff games. Eight in five games against Washington, which was second in the league in scoring during the regular season. Seven in four games against Florida, which was sixth in scoring.
10. Adam Pelech (6-3, 218) and Ryan Pulock (6-2, 217) is their top pairing. Pelech was thought to be lost for the season after a January Achilles’ injury, but the extended stoppage took care of that.
11. Brought in steady defenseman Andy Greene and flashy forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline.
12. Pageau has just one goal in his last 13 games against the Flyers, all while he was with Ottawa.
13. Isles captain Anders Lee, a native of Edina, Minn., was the 2008 Minnesota Gatorade football player of the year. He had one game where he threw for 477 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for another 104 yards. He went to Notre Dame – on a hockey scholarship.
14. Defenseman Devon Toews is not related to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
15. Semyon Varlamov beat the Flyers twice this season while Thomas Greiss took the shootout. Varlamov has won his last five starts against Philadelphia, posting 2.56 goals against and a .928 save pct. He has played the entire postseason for the Isles.
16. The Islanders spanked the Capitals despite their power play going 2-for-22 (9.1%). Their PK was 14-for-18 (77.8%). The Flyers were 1-for-8 (12.5%) on the power play in three games against the Isles this year. New York was 1-for-6 (16.7%).
17. Trivia answer: The four Islanders to win rookie of the year prior to Mathew Barzal are Denis Potvin (1974), Bryan Trottier (1976), Mike Bossy (1978) and Bryan Berard (1997). No Flyer has ever won it.
18. A win here would move Lou Lamoriello into second place all-time for postseason series wins by a general manager. Who knew they kept such a stat? Lamoriello is tied with Bill Torrey, who built the 1980s champions, with 28 series wins. Only Glenn Sather has more.
19. Of Lamoriello’s 28 series wins, three came against the Flyers (1995, 200 conference finals; 2012 conference semifinals) while he was in New Jersey.
20. Lamoriello coached hockey at Providence College for 15 years and became the school’s athletic director in 1982. He hired Rick Pitino to coach the basketball team in 1985.