The Islanders are off to their least favorite city. Philadelphia hasn't been too hospitable to visiting teams over the years, but the Isles' current 0-8-1 streak in Philly is among the more dominant streaks.
It doesn't help that the Islanders face the very physical Flyers Tuesday with a very different defensive corps than they've had in past meetings. Rookies Dylan Reese and Dustin Kohn are trying to get their bearings, and Jack Hillen is still getting readjusted after missing a month with a broken jaw.
"It's about going out and making simple plays, moving the puck well," said Mark Streit, who has played more than 28 minutes in each of the last two games with the new group of defensemen. "It's good experience for some of our guys."
On-the-job training isn't exactly what Scott Gordon had in mind for the stretch run a few weeks ago, when the Islanders still were in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Now they are closer to last in the conference than they are to eighth, and the remaining 17 games seem more about finding out what the young Islanders have to offer than gunning for the postseason.
Getting untracked in Philly would be a nice way to get things going. The Flyers sit sixth in the East, 12 points ahead of the Islanders, and they have a bunch of physical forwards to go with some hulking defensemen.
The key for Gordon isn't necessarily his young defense but his forwards getting in on the attack and pinning the Flyers in their own zone. "If we can keep possession, finish our checks on their 'D' and keep them dumping the puck and changing, we'll have some success," he said.
And doing it right from the start. In the Islanders' three games since the Olympic break, they've been outshot 48-34 and outscored 7-2 in the first periods of the three games.
"It's a little bit our mind-set. We've got to really be mentally ready from that first puck drop, especially on the road," Streit said. "It's going to be physical, it's going to be fast and we know that's how it will be [Tuesday]. We can't hesitate."
Notes & quotes: Blake Comeau (facial lacerations, sore back) skated with a non-contact jersey on Monday but did not make the bus trip to Philadelphia. Trevor Gillies was recalled from Bridgeport to add some muscle . . . G Rick DiPietro (knee swelling) skated before practice Monday, his first time on the ice in full pads since the Olympic break.