Following an important postponement of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flyers and Islanders pick back up their best-of-seven second-round playoff series on Saturday with Game 3.
As the series is tied at 1-1, let’s get into the essentials:
• Scott Laughton was named the Flyers’ most improved player this season after scoring a personal-best 13 goals despite playing 33 fewer games than he did in a career year during 2018-19.
With the Flyers trailing the series 1-0, Laughton was not in the lineup for Wednesday’s 4-3 OT win in Game 2. After leading the Eastern Conference’s round robin in points (five) and goals (three), Laughton has not looked like himself at all over the first and second rounds, going scoreless in seven games with four giveaways. The surprising dip in play and his absence from the Game 2 lineup made you wonder if he was banged up.
“I’m healthy,” Laughton said Friday in a video interview. “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, another player who has surprisingly sat in four of the Flyers’ 11 games during the NHL’s return-to-play 24-team tournament, entered the lineup for Laughton and ended up playing his most minutes of the playoffs at 15:19.
“I thought James played hard [Wednesday],” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Thursday in a video interview. “He’s an offensive player that has an ability around the net, but I thought his overall game, him getting in on the forecheck, using his size, helping us kill plays in the neutral zone – I thought his game was good. Scotty, I don’t want to get into the reason behind the decision because at this time we are not allowed to comment on player availability.”
Laughton is a valuable piece for the Flyers. All it could take is one loss by the team or a so-so game from another forward for Laughton to return to the lineup. He could even return in Game 3.
As we’ve seen, Vigneault has been quick to make game-to-game adjustments.
• The series now features only one back-to-back set, which comes in Games 3 and 4 following the two-day postponement Thursday and Friday.
In the regular season, the Islanders were tied with three other clubs for playing the league’s fewest back-to-back sets at eight, while the Flyers played 13.
New York went 5-3-0 in the first game of back-to-back situations and 6-1-1 in the second game. The Flyers went 7-4-2 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 6-5-2 in the second game.
The Flyers went 0-2-1 against the Islanders in the regular season; the Flyers were on the second game of a back-to-back set in all three matchups.
During the regular season, Carter Hart and Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov played only once apiece on no days rest, with both coming in relief duty. In the tournament, the 22-year-old Hart is 1-1-0 with 57 saves on 61 shots in games over a back-to-back set, while the 32-year-old Varlamov is 1-1-0 with 45 saves on 50 shots in games over a back-to-back set.
• Philippe Myers, who scored the Game 2 overtime winner, had four goals in 50 regular-season games. He has three goals in 11 playoff games and is tied with Claude Giroux for the Flyers’ second-most shots at 23.
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Joel Farabee-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl-Nate Thompson-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun
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