Flyers (26-21-7) vs. Islanders (23-18-10)
7 p.m. on TCN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30
Shayne Gostisbehere has been set free.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia Flyers and their rivals in the NHL from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The three-game benching is over and the 2015-16 Calder Memorial Trophy runner-up will return to the lineup on Thursday night (see story) when the Flyers host the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.
Here are five things to know for the matchup:
1. Ghostly impact
We all know Gostisbehere is suffering the proverbial sophomore slump.
But even a struggling Gostisbehere changes the whole dynamic of the Flyers' power play with his quarterback skills on the first unit.
Such an element will be welcomed back with open arms by a team that has gone consecutive home games without a goal for the franchise's first time since 1999.
In six games without Gostisbehere this season, the Flyers are 3 for 18 on the man advantage. Even during a season in which he's been benched five contests and has seen a significant decline in offensive production, the defenseman is still third on the Flyers with 12 power-play assists.
Whether it's his work at the point or with zone entries, there's no denying what Gostisbehere brings to the man advantage - an ideal area to awaken an offensive slumber.
2. Reading time
With Travis Konecny (left knee, ankle) out four to six weeks, Matt Read will be reinserted into the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch the previous time out.
The 30-year-old actually has the Flyers' last even-strength goal, scored in the team's 3-1 win over the Canadiens to open the current five-game homestand. Two games later, the 30-year-old was sent to the press box.
However, Thursday makes for a timely return.
In 25 career games against the Islanders, Read owns 12 goals - by far his highest total against any opponent. He also has eight assists for 20 points and a plus-11 rating in those meetings.
3. Here come the Isles
New York, winners in seven of its last 10 games, are creeping up on the Flyers, who are clinging to the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot by just one point over the Bruins, and three over the Islanders, Panthers and Devils.
The Flyers have taken care of business against New York thus far, albeit just barely. They've won the first two matchups - both at the Barclays Center - but needed the shootout in one victory and overtime in the other.
Now the final two meetings between both clubs come at the Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers are 16-8-4 this season compared to 10-13-3 on the road.
4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Well, this is an easy one: Gostisbehere. All eyes will be on the 23-year-old, not only offensively because of a 27-game goal drought, but more so defensively, where both the player and head coach want most improvement.
Islanders: Center Anders Lee is streaking with six points over his past three games and 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his previous 10. He's a plus-8 on the season, while the Flyers are without a single plus player.
5. This and that
• Steve Mason is expected to start in net for the Flyers after Michal Neuvirth missed practice Wednesday with an illness. In 15 career games against the Islanders, Mason is 8-2-3 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
• New York goalie Thomas Greiss is 6-1-1 in his last eight games with a 2.23 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
• The Flyers are 1-1-1 with three goals on their season-long five-game homestand.
• The Islanders are seventh in the NHL scoring 2.98 goals per game.