GAME PREVIEW: Flyers vs. New York Rangers

The Game: The Flyers and Rangers get together for game 82 this afternoon at the Wachovia Center in South Philadelphia.

Something isn’t just on the line today, everything is on the line today.  The Rangers were victorious Friday night in New York and were able to survive another 48 hours with the playoffs still in their reach.  Obviously, if the Flyers had won on Friday, they wouldn’t be in the position their in right now; they’d be locked into the playoff picture.  However, so goes the Flyers season and today it all comes to fruition with the proverbial “Do or Die.”

The Story: If the Flyers don’t win the game today, they will not make the playoffs.  It’s that simple.  The problem is, the same story is true for the New York Rangers, who are the visitors this afternoon as the two teams wrap up a season-ending home and home.  The game Friday night was not a very good effort by the Flyers, who came out with little urgency and, as a result, quickly fell behind the eight ball to the more-desperate Rangers.  This afternoon that cannot be the case.  Just as the Rangers did on Friday, the Flyers must treat today’s contest as their own Game 7.  If the Flyers are able to come out with desperation and the crowd at their backs, they can be successful and get into the postseason.  It’s not a matter of how, but if.  I cannot say it enough: if they collect two points this afternoon, they are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  If they do not, they are out of it, and a long off-season awaits the Flyers and their fans this coming summer.  A lot of bad possibilities can be erased if the Flyers can just scratch and claw their way to a win tomorrow.  It’s certainly not going to be easy, but it has to happen.  It has to, or their done.

Who to Watch on the Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, Goaltender.

Lundqvist is key to the Rangers' success this afternoon

“The King” was spectacular on Friday night, making a few big time saves in the waning moments to secure the victory for New York.  He’ll have to be better today because the Flyers are going to be coming at him from all angles and shooting from everywhere.  If Lundqvist falters, the Rangers will as well.  He is their internal heartbeat, and, once again, he is the main reason they are in the position they are today.  He could be the hero this afternoon if the Rangers leave Philadelphia with two points.  It’s up to the Flyers to make sure that absolutely, positively, does not happen.

The Skinny: The sixth and final meeting between the two clubs is the most important of the season for each.  The Rangers currently lead the season series with three wins to the Flyers’ two.  It is my extreme hope for my own well-being that the series is even at three after today.

Notes: THIS IS IT.  Brian Boucher vs. Henrik Lundqvist.  Flyers are healthy – at least on paper.  Rangers may potentially be without Ryan Callahan who tweaked his knee last night after he hit Chris Pronger behind the Flyers’ goal.  If he’s out, Brian Boyle is likely to come in.  I would be shocked if Callahan didn’t play – he’s a heart and soul kind of guy and this is the kind of situation he lives for.  If I’m Laviolette, I’m sitting both Coburn and Hartnell and bringing in Bartulis and Leino.  Not going to happen, but it should.

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