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Flyers-Isles preview: Rasmus Ristolainen returns for battle between low-scoring teams

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Calude Giroux at Islanders new arena
Flyers captain Claude Giroux checks out the Islanders' new digs Monday morning at UBS Arena. The teams play there on Monday night. Photo: Zack Hill/Flyers

If you are betting on Monday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders at brand-new UBS Arena, you may want to take the under, which is minus-5.5 goals (at minus-$134) on Fan Duel.

The Flyers (13-17-7) and Islanders (11-13-6), you see, are among the NHL’s lowest-scoring teams, and that’s a big reason they are both buried in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Philly is averaging 2.54 goals per game (26th in the NHL), while the Isles are managing only 2.23 goals per game (30th).

This is the Flyers’ first visit to UBS Arena, and they will have defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen back in the lineup after missing two games because of COVID-related reasons.

The Flyers are still missing Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis, and Derick Brassard.

At the morning skate, Ristolainen was on the third pairing, alongside Keith Yandle — an indication interim coach Mike Yeo will probably ease the big defenseman into the lineup before putting him on the second pairing.

The fourth line was also changed: Morgan Frost moved to left wing, and Connor Bunnaman is now that unit’s center.

Storylines

If the Flyers are going to make up any ground in the playoff race, this is the week to do it. If they don’t, well, you might see a lot of youngsters in the lineup the rest of the way, including right winger Wade Allison and defenseman Egor Zamula. They could be added to a lineup that already includes young players like Morgan Frost and Cam York. Fact is, it might already be time to have all four players in the lineup.

The Flyers this week play four games against teams that are below .500: the Islanders (Monday and Tuesday), Columbus (Thursday; hello, Jake Voracek), and Buffalo (Saturday).

Then again, the Flyers probably look like a weak link on those teams’ schedule.

Philly has lost seven straight and has yet to win in 2022. Before that, they lost 10 in a row, then put together a seven-game points streak.

Yeah, it’s been a roller-coaster ride in a season that has been about as enjoyable as watching the Eagles’ playoff embarrassment Sunday.

The Isles will be trying to continue their solid recent play at home, (see below). Defenseman Zdeno Chara can play in his 1,636th game tonight, moving him into second place on the NHL’s all-time list for defensemen. Chris Chelios is first (1,651 games).

Flyers’ projected lineup

Line 1: Claude Giroux centering Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson.

Line 2: Scott Laughton centering Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny. (Konecny is goal-less in his last 20 games and has been stuck on 99 career goals.)

Line 3: Kevin Hayes centering James van Riemsdyk and Gerry Mayhew.

Line 4: Connor Bunnaman centering Morgan Frost and Zack MacEwen.

Defense: Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim; Cam York and Justin Braun; Keith Yandle and Rasmus Ristolainen.

Goalie:  Martin Jones.

Numbers Dept.

The Flyers are 2-15-2 when allowing the first goal. They are 11-2-5 when scoring first. Enough said.

The Isles are 5-1-1 in their last seven home games after opening 0-5-2 at UBS Arena.

Who’s hot

Lindblom has nine points (four goals, five assists) and is plus-six over his last 11 games.

Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson has five points (two goals, three assists) and a plus-5 rating in the last five games.

Projected goalie matchup­­­

Jones will get his first start since Jan. 8. He is 6-5-2 with a 3.33 GAA and .909 save percentage.

Ilya Sorokin (2.43 GAA, .925 save percentage) is expected to get the call for the Isles.

How to watch

NBC Sports Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m.

Money line (FanDuel)

Flyers: plus-150.

Islanders: minus-182.

Prediction

Islanders 2, Flyers 1.

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