When the Islanders made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history back in 1975, they began a run to the semifinals by beating the Rangers in the opening round and then the Pittsburgh Penguins in the quarterfinals, a series in which the Isles had trailed three games to none. In the semifinals, the Islanders dug themselves a similar hole falling behind the Philadelphia Flyers three games to none. The Islanders would rally to force a game seven, but the Flyers would win that game on home ice on their way to a second straight Stanley Cup.
With that series against the Flyers, a playoff rivalry was added to a division rivalry. Five years later, the Islanders would beat the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals four games to two. The two current Metropolitan Division rivals will add the latest chapter to their playoff rivalry when they square off in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Toronto starting with game one on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena.
“Anytime that you have a division matchup in the playoffs that rivalry is going to increase a little bit,” said Islanders Captain Anders Lee during a Zoom meeting with reporters on Saturday. “Every one of our division games have that much more importance on it. Anytime we see these guys, or anyone else in the division, it’s a pretty intense game and obviously that’s going to be no different coming up in the next round.”
Game 1: Monday August 24th…Islanders at Flyers…7pm
Game 2: Wednesday August 26th…Islanders at Flyers…3pm
Game 3: Thursday August 27th…Flyers at Islanders…7pm
Game 4: Saturday August 29th…Flyers at Islanders…Noon
Game 5: Monday August 31st…Islanders at Flyers…TBD (If necessary)
Game 6: Wednesday September 2nd…Flyers at Islanders…TBD (If necessary)
Game 7: Thursday September 3rd…Islanders at Flyers…TBD (If necessary)
This will be the fifth playoff meeting between the Islanders and Flyers with Philadelphia having won three of the previous four. It has also been more than three decades since the Isles and Flyers have squared off in the post-season and that was in 1987 when they met in the Patrick Division Finals, a series Philadelphia won in seven games.
Islanders vs Flyers Playoff History:
In 1975, the Flyers beat the Islanders four games to three in the Stanley Cup semifinals. The Islanders fell behind three games to none but rallied with three straight wins to tie the series including a 2-1 win in game six at Nassau Coliseum. The Flyers then won game seven in Philadelphia 4-1.
In 1980, the Islanders beat the Flyers four games to two in the Stanley Cup Finals. Denis Potvin scored in overtime to win game one 4-3 in Philadelphia and then the Islanders took games three and four at Nassau Coliseum to go up three games to one. After the Flyers won game five 6-3 at The Spectrum, Bobby Nystrom scored at 7:11 of overtime in game six at the Coliseum to bring Lord Stanley to Long Island for the first time.
In 1985, the Flyers beat the Islanders four games to one in the Patrick Division Finals. Down three games to none, the Islanders avoided the sweep by winning game five 6-2, but the Flyers finished off the series at home with a 1-0 win in game five.
In 1987, the Flyers beat the Islanders four games to three in the Patrick Division Finals. The Islanders were down three games to one before evening the series with wins in games five and six. Then, the Flyers won game seven 5-1 in Philadelphia.
The Metropolitan Division is chock full of intense rivalries and for the Islanders their fiercest one is with the Rangers for a plethora of reasons. The New Jersey Devils are the next closest geographical rival for the Islanders but after that, it’s only a two- and half-hour drive between the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The proximity of the two franchises makes it easy for fans to make the short trip to see their team in enemy territory and that has led to a storied rivalry between the two clubs.
“I think there is that kind of close across town field a little bit,” said Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield. “I did see we haven’t played them in the playoffs for a while so that will be fun for the fans to bring that back.”
With these games taking place in the Toronto bubble, the fans will be watching these games on television, so the teams will have to try and continue to build energy on the ice in an empty arena. While the teams know each other pretty well, it’s been a while since the Islanders and Flyers squared off on the ice. The Islanders swept the season series winning 5-3 on October 27th at Nassau Coliseum, 4-3 in a shootout on November 16th in Philadelphia, and 5-3 on February 11th at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
They were supposed to meet again on March 24th in Philadelphia but that was wiped out when the NHL season was paused because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a while, but the Islanders and Flyers will now square off again, this time with a trip to the Eastern Conference Final on the line.
“This team is going to be ready to go,” said Islanders forward Derick Brassard. “It’s going to be a big series. This should be fun for the fans.”
33 years is a long time between playoff meetings, but the Islanders and Flyers will finally renew their storied post-season history. The Flyers were red hot when the NHL season was suspended and they’ve played well in the bubble including a victory over Montreal in the first round. The Islanders lost their last seven regular season games, but they’ve caught fire since the restart with a qualifying round win over Florida and a first round victory over Washington.
Now, it’s playoff chapter five between the Islanders and Flyers.