Game: New York Rangers (10-8-2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (11-11-1)
Location: Madison Square Garden (New York, New York)
TV: TSN2, NBCSN, CSN-PH
Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Previous Game: A 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday put the Flyers on even ground record wise for the first time this season. Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek scored goals for Philadelphia while Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 33 of 34 shots in the win.
Tuesday night in New York the Flyers are hoping to move above .500 and win for the time at Madison Square Garden in quite some time. In fact the Flyers have lost their last 5 meetings with the Rangers in New York with their last win coming on February 20, 2011.
The Flyers are also trying to win their third game in succession, a feat in which they haven’t yet accomplished in 2013. It’s a big game for Peter Laviolette’s club in the standings and for overall team morale. A win and you move forward to Thursday against the Penguins riding high but a loss means regrouping and refocusing for the Penguins. Flyers follow up a home against Pittsburgh with an afternoon game Saturday in Boston before returning home the next night against Buffalo. It truly is the most important three game stretch of the season but the players can’t think about three games, they have to think about one game and that’s the Rangers.
These two teams last met on January 29th at MSG, a 2-1 Rangers victory. It was a game the Flyers could have easily won but special teams failed them badly. Flyers went 1-6 on the power play which included a lengthy 5 against 3 in the second period down only 1-0. They didn’t convert and the Rangers eventually scored on a power play of their own minutes later. Kimmo Timonen did finally break through for the Flyers on a power play in the third period but that was all. Ilya Bryzgalov was brilliant in goal stopping 26 of 28 shots but even he couldn’t save the Flyers from their own ineptness that night.
A few things have changed for the Flyers since that night in New York:
It took them a while but the Flyers found their scoring touch. Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and Claude Giroux are scoring goals these days which was something that wasn’t happening in January.
Flyers penalty kill has been excellent over the last month moving up to 9th in the NHL at 84.4% conversion rate (5-5 last game).
Power Play has also vastly improved sitting 9th in the league at 20.8%. The unit still has nights where they’ll put up a donut but overall the puck movement and scoring chances on the PP are right where Peter Laviolette wants them.
Going into Tuesday’s game the Flyers are averaging almost three goals per game (2.9) and that is ranked, you guessed it, 9th in the NHL.
So all the positives the Flyers have built up over the last few weeks are going to have to come to fruition over the next three games starting against the Rangers. New York is coming off a shootout win over Buffalo on Sunday and with Rick Nash back in their lineup they’ll be that much tougher to beat. Surprisingly Nash is New York’s leading point scorer (16) even though he missed 4 games. in the Atlantic division the Flyers are holding a one point edge over the Rangers but New York has three games in hand so it’s paramount that the Flyers come away with two points at the Garden.
**UPDATE: Brad Richards will not play tonight for the Rangers.