The Islanders are built to win grinding, low-scoring contests, and that’s how they beat the Flyers 4-0 in Game 1 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Islanders smother Flyers in Game 1; Top players mostly negated
If you told Barry Trotz before virtually any Islanders playoff game that the top players would essentially end up in a draw, he’d probably take that. Such a setup worked out well for the Islanders in Game 1 against a Flyers top-end that is pretty potent — at least on paper.
None of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, or Jakub Voracek got much going. Really, Kevin Hayes was the most prominent Flyers player as far as scoring chances went, but Hayes couldn’t put his team on the board.
5v5 Goals by Flyers in recent Playoffs history
Giroux: 1G in last 22 Games
Voracek: 2G in last 22 Games
Konecny: 1G in last 15 Games
Provorov: 1G in last 15 Games
Hayes: 3G in last 30 Games
— HockeyIceStorm.com (@HockeyIceStorm) August 25, 2020
For much of Game 1, top Islanders such as Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee were quiet in their own right, but Lee put Game 1 out of reach for the Flyers when Lee scored a 3-0 third period goal.
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
While the Islanders dominated the first period of Game 1, the Flyers got their best work going during the second. But, even then, the Islanders rarely yielded much in the way of space or chances for the Flyers. Perhaps special teams will eventually be a saving grace for the Flyers, but the Islanders didn’t commit a single penalty late in the third. (By then, the Isles already build a 4-0 lead.)
It all made this brilliant Carter Hart save a mere footnote:
Instead, Semyon Varlamov continued a sharp 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 29-save shutout. (Varlamov became the first Islanders goalie to pitch consecutive shutouts [as an individual goalie, not as two goalies on the same Islanders team], according to Sportsnet.)
Again, this was a very Trotz-friendly game (aside from the occasional Hayes scoring chance), right down to defensive defenseman Andy Greene scoring his first playoff goal in about a decade
(It also must have made Trotz and Lou Lamoriello smile to see Jean-Gabriel Pageau score a key 2-0 goal.)
Simply put, the Flyers need to do more to pressure Semyon Varlamov, and not playing into the hands of Trotz’s Islanders.
No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (NYI leads series 1-0)
Game 1: Islanders 4, Flyers 0
Game 2: Wednesday Aug. 26, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Saturday, Aug. 29, 12 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 5: Monday, Aug. 31 – TBD
*Game 6: Wednesday, Sept. 2 – TBD
*Game 7: Thursday, Sept. 3 – TBD
MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.