Flyers Look To Keep Broom In Rangers Closet
As the Philadelphia Flyers (46-24-9) get set to face the New York Rangers (50-22-7) for the last time this regular season, they will do so without the services of Daniel Briere and Nicklas Grossmann.
Briere, who suffered a concussion on January 21st, came back to the team on February 7th and took some time to get back on track.
He proved that recently, notching nine points in his last five games, getting hot just in time for the playoffs, where he tends to dominate. That was until Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh where Briere suffered an upper back contusion, after being hit by Joe Vitale.
Some say the hit was uncalled for as there was a little over a minute left in the game, and that the Pittsburgh checking line did not see action for the previous twelve minutes of play. Thus, Implying Pittsburgh was sending a message, as earlier Sidney Crosby was cross-checked by Brayden Schenn on the way to the bench as Schenn was responding to a late Crosby hit.
Was it a message? Could be. But, what ever it was, it happened and the Flyers dealt with it, and if the season ending matchup has no meaning, they will deal with it again.
Now Briere has been listed as out indefinitely. Could he have suffered another concussion? It is possible, it was a violent hit which snapped his head back. Stay tuned.
Before Vitale took out Briere he had went knee on knee with Nicklas Grossmann, who has had a history of knee injuries, suffered a lower body injury and is out 7-10 days.
Grossmann has arguably been the best Flyers defenseman since he was traded to the Flyers on February 16th, just ahead of the NHL trade deadline. His size can not be replaced, and if he is out more than the 7-10 day time frame initially given, the Flyers will be on the golf course much earlier than planned.
What can't happen is what is happening in the media and with the fans, that is looking past the New York Rangers game. The Flyers need to focus tonight and avoid being swept by the Rangers, who last swept the Flyers in the 1971-72 season. The Rangers, who had a chance to clinch the top spot in the conference Sunday, failed to do so when they lost 2-1 to the Boston Bruins.
With a win tonight or a Penguins loss, the Rangers could accomplish that feat in Philly tonight. The Flyers have a chance to give the Rangers back-to-back losses; the more losses the Rangers have going into the playoffs the better.
Normally for the team that clinches the Conference it does not spell playoff success but the last time the Rangers did that they won the Stanley cup.
The key for the Flyers will be beating Henrik Lundqvist, they have only managed to beat him eight times in five games this season, while the Rangers beat Flyers goaltending 19 times during that span. Traffic from Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds (NHL Player of the Week) and Maxime Talbot is a must.
This will be another tough playoff type matchup, which should only help the Flyers mentally and physically prepare for the tough grind of the NHL Playoffs.
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