If it feels like it has been a lifetime since the New York Rangers played their biggest rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, that’s because it has been. The bitter rivals will be facing off for the first time since the early part of the season in October. Both teams have gone through dramatic transformations and are playing much better now, but the Rangers need to make a huge statement tonight against the Flyers.
After a brutal December, the Rangers have found a way to right the ship. Over their last 10 games, they are 7-2-1. They are getting contributions from just about everyone. Over the last four games, every player on the Rangers has recorded a point except for the newly acquired Daniel Carcillo and Anton Stralman. But this game isn’t going to be pretty; it is going to be a physical game with a lot of hitting.
The Flyers and Rangers have basically swapped philosophies over the past year. The Flyers have gone from being an offensive team that likes to push to pace to a team that focuses on defense. The Rangers have gone from implementing a great wall of China mentality to a team that likes to forecheck and score.
The Rangers need to make a statement tonight. They need to show that they can still play a physical style. For most of the season, one of the biggest concerns about this Rangers team has been their toughness. They have few players who are willing to mix it up or drop the gloves, which is the main reason Carcillo was acquired. But the Rangers need to come out and hammer the Flyers. They need to beat up on them and prove they can win against a tough team.
A win tonight would give the Rangers back-to-back wins at home and three straight, but the Rangers have to have a convincing win. They must dominate this game from start to finish.