The Game: The Philadelphia Flyers will look to extend their already-impressive win streak to five games when the New York Rangers visit the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.
The Flyers are coming off victories against Toronto, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Montreal, and are 6-1-3 in their last ten games. That streak has propelled them atop the Atlantic Division and currently atop the entire NHL. However, if there is another team as hot as the Flyers have been, it’s the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts look like a different team than year’s past, and are currently riding a three game win streak, as well as having gone 7-3-0 in their last ten games.
The Story: Quite simply: this game is a great measuring stick for both the Flyers and the Rangers. Obviously, the first time these two teams matched up, it was obvious New York was trying too hard to extract some revenge from a shootout loss that ended their year last season. They were running around looking for the big hit far too often and it cost them, as the Flyers dominated en route to a 4-1 victory. This time, however, there shouldn’t be any idea of retribution on the mind of the New York Rangers. The team is coming off three consecutive impressive victories: a 7-0 annihilation of the Washington Capitals, a four-goal third period that led them to victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and another come-from-behind win in a shootout over the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night. This game marks the first of a potential 15-19 contests that the Flyers will be without Chris Pronger, who broke a bone in his right foot during Wednesday’s victory over Montreal. Still, it’s safe to say that the Rangers and Flyers are poised to showcase one helluva tilt this afternoon.
Who to Watch on the Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, Goaltender.
Lundqvist has once again been solid this season for New York
With the Rangers’ best player out of the line-up for at least the next month and a half in Ryan Callahan, the ability to carry this team falls even more on New York’s all-world goaltender. In the month of December, Lundqvist has been awesome, going 5-2-0 with two shutouts, and has pushed his record to 14-11-1 overall with a .921 save percentage and five shutouts on the season. He’ll be counted on this afternoon to hang tough and keep the Rangers in the game against the Flyers’ balanced offensive attack.
The Skinny: This is the second meeting between the two teams this season, with two more scheduled over the next month or so. The Flyers won the first contest between the two teams, as goals by Mike Richards, Blair Betts, Nikolay Zherdev, and Chris Pronger propelled the Orange and Black to a 4-1 win. The Rangers have struggled against teams that aggressively forecheck them all season long, so there’s no reason Peter Laviolette should change-up his gameplan for this contest. Pressure their defensemen, take the body, and crash Lundqvist’s crease, and they’ll be fine.
Notes: I’m going to straight up guess here, so if I’m wrong don’t blame me: Brian Boucher will be the Flyers’ starting goaltender this afternoon. Henrik Lundqvist to tend nets for the Rangers. Today marks the beginning of life without Chris Pronger. In his place, steps in Oskars Bartulis, who was a regular on the Flyers’ Stanley Cup Final team last season. As I wrote yesterday, the pairings will likely be Matt Carle-Andrej Meszaros, Kimmo Timonen-Braydon Coburn, Oskars Bartulis-Sean O’Donnell. Puck drops at 1PM EST at the Wells Fargo Center. Enjoy this one, folks, it should be fun.