It will be interesting to see how Flyers coach Alain Vigneault uses his goalies after the NHL revamped its playoff schedule.
Goalie Carter Hart was a 4-3 overtime winner over the New York Islanders in Game 2 on Wednesday afternoon, and the Flyers were originally scheduled to play Game 3 on Thursday night.
Thursday’s game, however, was among those postponed by the NHL to show its support for the fight against racial injustice.
Now, Game 3 is set for Saturday at 7 p.m., with the series tied at 1-1. Game 4 is Sunday at 8 p.m.
Will Vigneault go back to Hart in Game 3 and, if the Flyers win, use backup Brian Elliott in Game 4 the next night? Will he use Elliott in Game 3? Use Hart on consecutive nights?
Among No. 1 goalies whose teams are still alive in the playoffs, Hart has the NHL’s best save percentage (.935) in this year’s postseason. He wasn’t sharp in the second game of his back-to-back starts in Round 1, a 5-3 loss (with an empty-net goal) to Montreal on Aug. 19. That followed consecutive shutouts by Hart.
The original schedule had the Flyers and Isles playing Games 6 and 7 on back-to-back days if the series went the limit. That has changed, so there is only one set of consecutive games in this series.
Game 5 will be played Tuesday at 7 p.m. If necessary, Game 6 is on Thursday and Game 7 is next Saturday. The times of the latter two games are to be determined
Laughton says he’s healthy
Winger/center Scott Laughton was arguably the Flyers’ best forward in the round-robin tournament, but he has struggled with turnovers in the playoffs and, surprisingly, was benched in Game 2 Wednesday against the Islanders.
Vigneault hinted the other day that Laughton might be dealing with an injury, but the winger/center shot down that theory Friday.
“I’m healthy,” he said. “I think at this time of the year, you have to elevate your game. I think obviously in some of the games, my puck management could have been better for sure and things like that. Try to work on my game and become better for this team. Try to get back in. Once I do that, I know I’ll work as hard as I can to show the boys that I’m here.”
James van Riemsdyk replaced Laughton in Game 2, a 4-3 Flyers overtime win. Van Riemsdyk had two shots and was minus-1, and he was praised by Vigneault for his defensive work.
In this year’s postseason, the Flyers are 7-0 when scoring first, 0-3 when they don’t. ... Kevin Hayes is tied for seventh in the NHL with a plus-8 rating in the postseason. The Islanders have three players in the top three: Jean-Gabriel Pageau (plus-11, tied for first), and Nick Leddy and Josh Bailey (both plus-10, tied for third).