Rangers Come to Town For Final 2013 Meeting
Philadelphia Flyers (18-21-3) vs New York Rangers (21-16-4)
Wells Fargo Center -- Philadelphia, PA
7:30 pm -- NBC and 93.3 FM WMMR
Setting the Stage
This is the final meeting between the two teams. The Rangers lead the season series 3-1 and have won the last three match-ups. Philadelphia earned its first win of the season on January 24 against the Rangers, winning 2-1. They proceeded to get beat 2-1 on January 29, 4-2 on March 5 and 5-2 on March 26.
The Rangers are clinging onto the 8th seed for dear life, but they have an advantage over Winnipeg and Buffalo who are right behind them. The Rangers hold a two-point advantage on the Jets, who have played one more game than New York, as well as holding a four-point edge on the Sabres, who have played two more games than New York.
The Flyers are seven points back of the Rangers for the 8th spot and have played one more game than New York. Though making the playoffs seems unlikely they do have the opportunity to play spoiler for teams like the Rangers, Islanders and Senators, who are all left on the Flyers schedule.
The Rangers have won their last two games and are 6-3-1 in their last 10. The Flyers are playing the second of a back-to-back, the last of its kind for the season. They snapped a four-game losing streak yesterday, beating the Canadiens, 7-3.
What to Expect
The Flyers have to hope they didn't score all their goals in one game against Montreal. They snapped a four-game funk in which they had only scored three goals in that span. They scored seven yesterday, beating one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Rick Nash is New York's leading scorer with 35 points and a team-high 17 goals. Derek Stepan leads the team with 20 assists and has 14 goals to give him 34 points.
Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek each put up three-point efforts last night to keep them locked up at 42 points apiece. Voracek has the team lead in goals with 18 while Giroux has the team lead in assists with 29. Wayne Simmonds scored his 13th goal of the season, keeping him tied with Giroux for second on the team.
The Masked Men
Ilya Bryzgalov or Steve Mason could be in net tonight, but Mason would be the more likely start. Bryzgalov played yesterday, stopping 25 shots and surrendering three goals in the first half of the game. Mason last played on Saturday against Buffalo, giving up the only goal in a 1-0 loss. He played well but the goal he allowed was off a terrible bounce.
Henrik Lundqvist should be in net tonight for the Rangers. Games now are more important for New York so they will continue to throw their best at teams. Lundqvist is just that, posting the 7th best GAA with 2.06 and the 4th best save percentage in the NHL with a .928.
Keys to the Game
1. Spoiler. The Flyers can really wreck the chances of New York with a win. That should be huge motivation for the Flyers, who want to see as few rivals in the post season as possible.
2. 60 Minutes. The Flyers were absolutely dominant last night. If they can repeat half of that effort they will have a really good chance at winning this game.
3. Discipline. The Flyers registered 45 penalty minutes last night, putting the Canadiens on six power plays. They somehow managed to keep the 4th best power play unit in the league in check, killing off all six penalties. The Rangers power play may be ranked 20th but the Flyers still can't give up that many chances to opposing teams.
“It was good to score some goals. We haven’t scored a lot of goals lately. To be able to throw some in the back of the net, I think it always helps your confidence. But I think they worked for it, too. They really put them in position to score goals with their work ethic.” -- Head coach Peter Laviolette.