The Philadelphia Flyers are looking to win their second Atlantic
Division title in three seasons. That may not happen if they can’t
figure out how to beat the New York Rangers.
After breaking a three-game losing streak their last time out,
the host Flyers seek their first win in five tries this season over
the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers on Saturday.
Second-place Philadelphia (31-16-7) is four points behind New
York in the division, a deficit due in large part to its inability
to gain any points in the season series. The Flyers have totaled
six goals in the four games against their Winter Classic opponent,
with the most recent loss coming by a 5-2 score at Madison Square
Garden on Sunday.
They have dropped six straight overall to the Rangers and two in
a row at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia’s frustration seemed
evident in the latest meeting, with the teams combining for 72
penalty minutes and four fights.
“I think we know how important these games are,” Rangers right
wing Marian Gaborik said after scoring his team-leading 26th goal
in that contest. “We have played very well against them this year
and this game was one of them.”
The Flyers won’t have the added pressure of trying to end a skid
in this matchup, as they defeated Toronto 4-3 on Thursday. Claude
Giroux and Brayden Schenn scored 1:14 apart in the second period
while Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves in place of Ilya Bryzgalov,
who had the flu.
“Every team’s fighting for their lives, and it’s good to get the
two points tonight,” Schenn said.
While Philadelphia certainly won’t be looking past New York, the
Flyers face another tough task Sunday. They’ll take on their second
conference leader in as many days as they face Detroit at Joe Louis
“This weekend’s gonna be a good test for us to see where we
stand,” Giroux said. “Detroit is one of the best teams in the
league and so are the Rangers, so guys are pretty excited for the
weekend and we gotta make sure we get our rest because it’s gonna
be a tough one.”
New York (34-13-5) also got back on track after a loss in its
last game. The Rangers rebounded from falling 1-0 to New Jersey on
Tuesday by beating Tampa Bay 4-3 in overtime Thursday, making them
5-1-1 in their last seven.
Brad Richards scored in the extra period after Brian Boyle tied
it in the third for the Rangers, who outshot the Lightning 10-3 in
third period and OT.
“I think it’s a mindset. If you have some success, and we have
had some success in the third period, you try to go back to that,”
coach John Tortorella said.
That’s been the case for Tortorella’s team against Philadelphia
this season, as New York has outscored the Flyers 8-3 in the
Henrik Lundqvist will likely be back in net for this game after
Martin Biron started Thursday. Lundqvist, 4-1-0 with a 0.97
goals-against average and two shutouts in his last five starts, has
won all four games against the Flyers in 2011-12 with a 1.50
He has been in goal for each of his team’s six consecutive
victories in the series, posting a 1.32 GAA with two shutouts.
It’s uncertain who will be in net for the Flyers. Bryzgalov and
Bobrovsky have each started twice versus the Rangers this season,
though Bryzgalov has given up eight goals in his games to
New York and Philadelphia meet for the final time in the regular
season April 3 at MSG.