GAME: New York Islanders (35-27-10-4) at Philadelphia Flyers (39-18-14-6).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
One star player returns for the Philadelphia Flyers and another exits. Jeremy Roenick is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday for the Flyers when they host the surging New York Islanders.
Roenick has been out since sustaining a concussion and a broken jaw when he was hit by a shot off the stick of New York Rangers defenseman Boris Mironov on Feb. 12. Roenick will most likely wear a protective cage for about another month to guard his jaw.
"I figured it was enough time to heal, it's been six weeks now," Roenick said. "Six weeks was the parameter. And I knew going in that the playoffs were about two months away, so I had a good chance of coming back."
While the Flyers will get Roenick back, they will likely be without leading scorer Mark Recchi on Thursday. Recchi missed practice Wednesday after his throat was cut by a skate in Tuesday's 4-2 victory at Carolina. He received 19 stitches but the cut reopened early Wednesday and he needed more stitches.
Recchi joins captain Keith Primeau and defensemen Vladimir Malakhov and Eric Desjardins on the Flyers' injured list. Sean Burke made 26 saves for his first win in nearly a month, and Branko Radivojevic had a goal and an assist Tuesday for Philadelphia.
Burke, the backup to Robert Esche, had been 0-2-2 since beating Chicago on Feb. 24. Burke's 303rd career win moved him past Turk Broda into 18th place on the all-time list.
"I wasn't really worried about who I was passing or where I was in the overall standings, I just needed a win," Burke said. "I haven't had one for a while and our team has played fairly well. I didn't want to come in here today and come out of here with anything less than two points."
Seven points over their final five games will clinch the Atlantic Division title for the Flyers, who are trying to hold off New Jersey. Philadelphia is one point behind Tampa Bay for the best record in the Eastern Conference, which guarantees home-ice through the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Five wins in six games has helped the Islanders open a comfortable lead over Buffalo in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. New York, bidding for its third straight playoff appearance, has outscored opponents 9-1 during a three-game win streak.
New York's Rick DiPietro followed one of his best performances of the season with his second consecutive shutout, 3-0 over visiting Washington on Tuesday. DiPietro needed to make only 17 saves after he stopped 29 shots in a 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
DiPietro is 5-0 in his last six games, allowing seven goals. "He probably sees the puck as a big balloon coming at him right now," Islanders defenseman Kenny Jonsson said. The Islanders have surrendered one goal or fewer in each of their last five wins.
Head to Head stats
Win %: 0.553 NYI 0.636 PHI
Avg Goals For: 2.829 NYI 2.857 PHI
Avg Goals Against: 2.553 NYI 2.247 PHI
Power Play %: 15.8 NYI (18th) 22.3 PHI (1st)
Penalty Kill %: 84.4 NYI (12th) 84.2 PHI (17th)
More Head-To-Head Statistics
TEAM Home Win % Road Win % W L T OTL Points
NY Islanders (8th) 0.684 0.421 35 27 10 4 84
Philadelphia (2nd) 0.711 0.564 39 18 14 6 98
Flyers lead the series 3-1-0-0.
Tonight, the Warrior returns to the lineup. Just getting JR back in the lineup will be a big boost for the guys. Then maybe Primeau might be back as well, it only gets better. This game is going to be no walk in the park by any means. The Isles have made a lot of noise as of late beating the Lightning twice and shutting them out in the second. To be able to shut out an offensive powerhouse like the Lightning is no easy task. Everyone has to step up tonight. The defense has been to be tight with guys like Yashin, Parrish, Hunter, Blake on offense. This is a game we have to win if we want to win the Atlantic. We need 7 points out of our last 5 games. Everyone is going to have play physical and luckily for JR, he wouldn't have it any other way. Bottom line, everyone must bring their "A" game to the rink tonight.
Flyers website says Primeau is game time decision. Roenick said that Primeau will be back tonight but Primeau said it will be gametime decision. Somik is practising and Desjardins is finally allowed taking slapshots. All on Philly website. This is great. Just Malahkov left but that's not as important.
Can't wait to watch JR again. His flashiness was missed. And Primeau? Gametime decision? All the pieces are falling into place again. Great news. No doubt about it, we will be pumped tonight. I'm sure we'll see some great hockey from the O&B.
So is Snow still using those leg pads that go up the middle of his waist?
Seriously, I think he is the biggest cheater in the NHL with the pads. Worse than Luongo, worse than Jiggy. Whenever I see him play, I pray the opposing coach will have the refs measure them ala Ilya Kovalchuk's stick.
First time in awhile we are hoping that Toronto and NJ win. Not to mention Colorado so that we can try and get the Presidents cup. As well Montreal over Ottawa. And finally for Edmonton and all Canadian teams present for the first time since 86 Anaheim over St-louis and NY Rags over Nashville to help Edmonton.
im assuming Garth Snow gets the start for the Isles.
he has played pretty well against us. But there is just too much emotion in this one. JR is back and Preems may not be far behind.
Look for the Flyers to jump out to a 3-0 lead after 1 and coast from there