Teams with that went down different paths before COVID-19 will clash to take another step towards the Stanley Cup Finals.
Following the Philadelphia Flyers’ Game 6 series-clinching victory over the Montreal Canadiens, the Flyers will advance to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 8 years while the New York Islanders, following their Game 5 series-clinching victory over the Washington Capitals the night before, will play in the second round for the 2nd-straight year.
Before COVID-19 temporarily suspended the NHL season, the Flyers were on a 9-game winning streak, allowing them to be one of the top-4 teams in Eastern Conference heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the round-robin games, the Flyers defeated Boston, Washington, and Tampa Bay to secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. For the Islanders, they were on a 7-game losing streak, which nearly cost their season. But, with their record after March 10 and return of many players from injury, the Islanders found themselves with a reason for hope, especially after defeating the Florida Panthers 3 games to 1 in the Qualifying Round.
The Islanders and Flyers will face each other in the playoffs for the first time in 33 years. In their last postseason meeting in 1987, the Flyers defeated the Islanders in the second round in 7 games. While the Flyers eventually made it to the Stanley Cup Finals that season, Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers defeated them in 7 games. The Flyers have two Stanley Cup Finals in their history in back-to-back seasons in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. For the Islanders, they have not won a Stanley Cup since their dynasty team of the ’80’s won 4 straight titles, which includes their last Stanley Cup Finals appearance since winning their last.
The second-round series between New York and Philadelphia will begin with Game 1 starting on Monday, August 24 at 7pm. The Islanders will look to continue their playoff run while being coached by their 2nd-year head coach Barry Trotz, who helped the Islanders defeat his former team, the Washington Capitals, and with Anthony Beauvillier leading the team in the playoffs with 6 goals and Josh Bailey leading the team with 10 points.
The Islanders stayed strong outscoring Washington in the first round after Semyon Varlamov finished Game 5 with his first playoff shutout victory since 2009 while the Islanders outscored the Capitals 17-8. Should the Islanders defeat the Flyers in Round 2, they will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years and face the winner of Tampa Bay and Boston.
For the Flyers, Scott Laughton has the led the way in the postseason with 5 points on 3 goals, the most on the team, and 2 assists, while the Flyers’ goaltender Carter Hart, who played the entire first round against Montreal, accomplished back-to-back shutout victories in Games 3 and 4, making Hart the 2nd-youngest goaltender in NHL history to ever do so, and the third Flyers’ goaltender since Michael Leighton in 2010 and Bernie Parent in 1975. If the Flyers defeat the Islanders, they will return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 10 years.