NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

 

Flyers (11-11-1) at Rangers (10-8-2) 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Madison Square Garden, New York

Who will take the edge in the season series?

After a successful homestand, winning four of five games, the Philadelphia Flyers hit the road once again to take on their division rivals, the New York Rangers. Both teams were Eastern Conference powerhouses a season ago, but now are struggling to land a playoff seed. Currently, the Flyers maintain a slim lead over their New York neighbors for the 8th and final spot out East. But needless to say, neither team is happy with where they are in the standings.

Philadelphia certainly appears to be getting on the right track, however. They reached the .500 mark for the first time all season after their 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Winger Jakub Voracek continues to emerge as one of the more skilled offensive players in the entire league, currently tied for 7th among all players in points (25). And any more Claude Giroux critics have been silenced, as the Flyers captain has scored points in six of his last seven contests. The biggest difference in the orange and black’s recent success if the offense. During their incredibly slow start to the season, the Flyers were struggling to light the lamp and their power play was hideous, ranking towards the bottom of the league. Lately, however, they have done a complete 180, ranking 9th in power play percentage (20.8) and 10th in goals per game (2.87).

Meanwhile, the Rangers have been dealing with some significant injuries. First, Rick Nash was sidelined for four games with an undisclosed injury. While it must be great to have him back, one of Nash’s setup men appears to have received a bit from the injury bug as well. Brad Richards was driven headfirst into the boards after a hit from Patrick Kaleta. It is still unclear whether or not Richards will be in the lineup for Tuesday night’s contest, but I certainly wouldn’t count on it. Richards has not scored a goal in his last 15 games, part of the reason why the Rangers rank 23rd in goals per game. Marian Gaborik has also been sporadic, to say the least and the offense just hasn’t consistently been there for the Rangers all season long.

Between the Pipes

For the Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov will look to continue receiving the force from his Star Wars themed mask. He was extremely sharp during the team’s weekend matinee game, stopping 33 of 34 shots fired his way. There certainly aren’t anymore concerns with a Flyers goaltender, that’s for sure.

Despite not being as dominant as last season, Henrik Lundqvist is still the best goalie in the world and will be in net for the blue shirts. He has been known to give the Flyers fits in the past and stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced during the team’s 2-1 victory over their rivals from Philly back in late January.

Keys to Win

Stay disciplined: It is no secret that these two teams don’t really care for each other very much. With that being said, expect a lot of physical play to go along with some trash talk. Despite what the opposition does, do not let them get under your skin. A good example would be to watch Zac Rinaldo lately. He is agitating the opponent, but in a clean matter. Then when they retaliate, he let’s them, resulting in a power play opportunity.

Highlight Rick Nash: Ever since returning from injury, Nash has been on a tear, posting four points in two games. He is looking much more comfortable and is extremely dangerous on the man advantage. Defensively, make sure you are aware of his location or he will make you pay.

Notes

The Flyers have called up Eric Wellwood for this contest. Whether he or veteran Mike Knuble be a healthy scratch remains unclear.

Harry Zolniercyzk has been suspended four games after a charging hit on Ottawa’s Mike Lundin.

Philadelphia is 1-8 in their last nine contests against the Rangers.

They have also lost five straight games at Madison Square Garden. Can they end the unfortunate skid? Find out tonight at 7:30.

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