After two fantastic Western Conference Game 7 showdowns on Friday night, Saturday is for the East. The Flyers and Islanders meet in a winner-take-all contest and the opportunity to take another step toward lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Islanders led this series 3-1 but couldn’t put it away as they lost Games 5 and 6 in overtime (the latter in double OT). Of course, as with every other series, who will be in goal for New York is in question. Head coach Barry Trotz said during morning availability Saturday that there will be lineup changes. What that exactly means is anyone’s guess but the team from the Island does have Thomas Greiss (1-1, with the loss coming in Game 2 in overtime) and Semyon Varlamov (who lost the last two games) ready to go. Both netminders split time during the regular season and Trotz may turn to Greiss for a jolt.
“Whoever’s in the net, we know they’ll do the job,” J-G Pageau said Saturday. “But we’ve got to do the job in front of them, too.”
The Islanders, by the way, haven’t been to a conference final since 1993; they got there that year by winning the Patrick Division finals (equivalent to today’s second round) in a Game 7 against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
The Flyers entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the East and will be looking to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2010; that year, they got all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Blackhawks. If they hope to skate away with a victory in Game 7, they’ll need to get their power play going; they’re 0 for 11 in this series.
Philadelphia did get a good-vibes boost in Game 6 as Oskar Lindblom played for the first time since being diagnosed with cancer in December. He played more than 17 minutes in his return.
And it doesn’t hurt that head coach Alain Vigneault knows a thing or two about winning Game 7s — he’s 5-2 in them all time. Funny thing is, while he has beaten Trotz in a Game 7 before (2015 second round, Rangers over Capitals), he has also beaten the Flyers. The last time Philadelphia was in a Game 7 was in 2014, when the Rangers were on their way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Sports Grind Entertainment has all the action as the Islanders and Flyers face off for a spot in the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning.
Islanders vs. Flyers scores, updates from Game 7
(All times Eastern.)
7:05 p.m. ET — Other lineup notes.
7 p.m. ET — Greiss is a go.