The Philadelphia Flyers eliminated the New York Rangers from
playoff contention on the final day of the 2009-10 regular season.
While Sunday’s meeting may not possess the same immediate urgency,
a loss for the Rangers would be another hit to their fading stance
among postseason contenders.
New York looks to beat Philadelphia for the first time in five
games when they face off Sunday afternoon at Madison Square
The Rangers (31-25-4) fell to 2-6-1 in their last nine games
with a 1-0 loss to New Jersey on Friday and have been held to two
or less goals in five of the last seven. Once contending for
home-ice advantage in the first round in the Eastern Conference
playoffs, New York has slipped in the standings and is 15 points
back of the first-place Flyers.
Marian Gaborik had a four-goal game Jan. 19, but has only two in
12 games since. Leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky had his four-game
point streak snapped against the Devils.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves but fell to 2-4-1 with a 3.00
goals-against average in his last seven starts. He didn’t get much
offensive support, as the Rangers finished with a season-low 15
“We were a step slow all night long in their zone, in the
neutral zone, and defending in our end zone,” coach John Tortorella
told the team’s official website. “It was especially so in the
first two periods. The third period I thought we were a little bit
Lundqvist has dropped a pair of 4-1 decisions to Philadelphia
this season Nov. 4 and Dec. 18. Martin Biron lost 3-2 in the most
recent meeting Jan. 16, allowing a goal to Flyers captain Mike
However, Richards’ status for Sunday is uncertain after sitting
out Philadelphia’s 3-2 loss Friday against Carolina with flu-like
symptoms. It was the first game he’s missed in almost two full
Coach Peter Laviolette had already turned in the team’s lineup
sheet which included Richards, who made a last-minute decision not
to play. The Hurricanes scored two goals within the first seven
minutes and the Flyers never recovered.
“It happened that fast,” Laviolette said of Richards’ absence.
“We were juggling (lines) a little bit at the beginning there.”
Philadelphia still has a solid lead atop the East despite the
loss. Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves but has lost three of five
starts after going 6-0-0 with a 1.83 GAA from Jan. 11-25.
Former Ranger Blair Betts scored his first goal since Nov. 4 and
Braydon Coburn tied the game in the third period with his second of
the season. However, the Flyers allowed the winner with just over
three minutes remaining.
Nikolay Zherdev was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive
game despite Richards being out of the lineup. Zherdev, who spent
the 2008-09 season with New York, has three goals this season
against his former team.
Philadelphia has won four straight and six of the last eight
meetings, but the Rangers have won four of the past six matchups at