Flyers at Rangers – 7:30 p.m., CSN
Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
Flyers: 11-11-1 (Third in Atlantic Division, Eighth in Eastern Conference)
Rangers: 10-8-2 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, Ninth in Eastern Conference)
In the last matchup between these two division rivals, Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves but it wasn’t enough in the Flyers’ 2-1 loss to the Rangers on Jan. 29. Kimmo Timonen tallied the Flyers’ lone marker and Danny Briere fired 10 shots on Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 26 shots. Michael Del Zotto and Ryan Callahan each scored for New York.
Tuesday will mark the third of five meetings between these two clubs this season. The Flyers and Rangers have split the first two contests, each by a score of 2-1.
Led by the strong play of Bryzgalov in net, the Flyers came away with a scrappy 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Bryzgalov earned his 11th victory of the year after turning aside 33 Ottawa shots on goal. Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek each recorded their ninth goals of the season to help the Flyers finally reach the .500 mark.
Rick Nash had a goal and assist and also scored in the shootout to help the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Lundqvist made 28 saves and Derek Stephen tallied the Rangers’ other goal in regulation. The win was the second in a row for New York, which sits one point behind the Flyers with three games in hand for the final playoff spot in the East.
Ever since unveiling his Star Wars-themed mask two games ago, the force has been strong in Bryzgalov. The Flyers’ netminder has stopped 56 of 58 shots in those contests -- both victories. He has started all but two games for the orange and black this season, going 11-9-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.
For the Rangers, Nash has proved to be the key to New York’s success. In his first 16 games with the Blueshirts, he has collected five goals and 11 assists -- including two tallies and two helpers in his past two contests. Nash suffered an undisclosed injury and missed four games a few weeks ago and the Rangers went 0-3-1 without him.
Before recording an assist in Saturday’s win over the Sens, Ruslan Fedotenko failed to register a point in his previous seven games. The veteran forward has just one goal, six assists and 16 shots on net in 23 games with the Flyers this season.
Brad Richards is off to a poor start for New York. The Rangers’ first-line center has tallied just two goals and 13 points through the first 20 games of the season.
Keep an eye on ...
New York’s big three of Marian Gaborik, Nash and Richards have not been much of a factor against the Flyers. The orange and black have limited the three stars to just two assists in their first two meetings versus the Rangers this season.
Voracek has been a pleasant surprise for the Flyers so far this year. He is leading the club with 25 points in 23 games and has collected six goals and 11 assists over his past 10 games. He also has a goal and an assist against the Blueshirts this season.
Lundqvist has put up some eye-popping stats against the Flyers in his career. The Rangers’ netminder is 23-11-3 with four shutouts, a .914 save percentage and a 2.54 goals-against average in 39 starts versus the Flyers.
No Harry Zolnierczyk in this game. The Flyers forward was suspended four games for charging Ottawa’s Mike Lundin on Saturday. Lundin, who is concussed, left the game and did not return. Mike Knuble is expected to fill Zolnierczyk’s void in the Flyers’ lineup.
Did you know?
The Flyers are 1-8 in their last nine games against the Rangers and have lost five straight at Madison Square Garden.
Flyers: Matt Read (torn rib cage muscles), Tye McGinn (right orbital surgery), Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder) and Jody Shelley (left hip surgery) are all on injured reserve and remain sidelined.
Rangers: According to the New York Daily News, Brad Richards (undisclosed injury) will likely be out of New York's lineup against the Flyers. The 32-year-old center was hit from behind by Buffalo's Patrik Kaleta on Sunday. Richards stayed on the ice for a few minutes but would later return to the game. Kaleta, who was given a boarding penalty on the play, was suspended five games by the NHL for the hit.
Matt Gilroy (flu) and former Flyer Arron Asham (back spasms) are listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Flyers.
Michael Sauer is on injured reserve with concussion-like symptoms and is out indefinitely.
After their matchup with the Rangers, the Flyers will have completed 50 percent of their schedule. How many games do you think they will win in the second half of this lockout-shortened season?
Shayne Gostisbehere has been through it before.
The ups and downs of a rookie season. Although his season a year ago was mostly up and up as a Calder Trophy finalist.
Nonetheless, Gostisbehere felt badly for 19-year-old Ivan Provorov following that minus-5 performance in Chicago on Tuesday and then another minus effort in the home-opening loss to Anaheim on Thursday.
So "Ghost" had a talk with his Russian counterpart about life on the blue line.
“He was down after a few games,” Gostisbehere said. “I didn’t really tell him much other than, ‘Hey, we’ve got 79 more of these.’ I told him to keep his head up and he’ll get over it.
“He’s a hell of a player and sometimes you don’t get all of the bounces. He’s a great player as you guys could see. He had a great bounce-back game tonight.”
Indeed he did during Saturday’s 6-3 win over Carolina (see story).
Provorov says when the play seems slow to him, he knows he’s focused on what has to be done.
“Once you get comfortable, you get used to the speed and the game slows down for you,” he said. “With every game, I’m getting more comfortable and trying to make more plays.”
Provorov set up two critical early Flyers goals with two assists during a plus-2 outing that led to a 3-2 lead in the second period. The Flyers didn’t trail thereafter.
Both his shots went right to the net. Several other times this week, he had his point shots blocked.
“You try to read off how much time you have and stuff like that, how fast the player is coming at you,” he said. “You’re trying to [decide] what kind of shot to take.”
Provorov admitted some of his teammates were giving him encouragement.
“I think everyone is going to have tough games, it’s only his third game,” Gostisbehere said. “You have to give the guy a break. It’s tough to be in that position, he’s 19 years old.
“He’s a kid, it’s tough. I was 22 so it was a little different, I’m a little older and everyone is going to have those tough games, but it’s how you bounce back.”
Provorov also had two hits and four blocked shots.
Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds both extended their goal-scoring streaks to four games. They are each one shy of their career-high — five games.
The last Flyer to have a four-game goal-scoring streak was Claude Giroux, who did so from March 19 to 28, 2015, with five goals.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Flyers had two players concurrently on goal-scoring streaks of four games or more was 1993, when Josef Beranek had an eight-game streak from Oct. 9 to 23 and Eric Lindros had a six-game streak from Oct. 12 to 26.
Read is truly enjoying the best start of his career.
“It made hockey a little bit more fun,” he said. “The last couple of years have been frustrating. You are battling as much as you can out there to try and get better.
“Scoring a couple of goals here early gets the confidence high. I enjoy going on the ice every shift and giving it your all and trying to make this team better every shift.”
You know it’s a good night when seven players are plus-2.
When your rookies have strong bounce-back games.
When Jakub Voracek scores his first two goals of the season.
And when Matt Read, ladies and gentleman, climbs atop the NHL leader board with five goals.
All of which unfolded Saturday night as the Flyers snapped a three-game losing skid and earned their first home victory, 6-3, over the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
“It was pretty solid and the goals we let in there were our own mistakes,” said Steve Mason, who picked up his first win in four games with 27 saves.
“We need to clean that up but when it came down to third period we needed to lock it up, it was a pretty good test, there.”
There’s still work to be done. Things like bearing down on the faceoff and open men in the high slot where Mason again twice faced tee shots without support.
Yet the good outweighs all that. The Flyers again rallied, this time from a two-goal deficit, to score four times in the second period to take over the game.
Few players could be happier than 19-year-old rookie Ivan Provorov.
The Russian defenseman has had a tough week on both sides of the puck. He set up two goals and almost three with a flip pass to Read for a breakaway chance that led to a Flyers power play that ended with Wayne Simmonds’ tipping one home to put the game out of reach late at 5-3
“I felt comfortable from the first shift and built on that,” Provorov said. “It helps when the whole team plays a great game.”
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol changed his partner to Brandon Manning but didn’t think that impacted much on the kid’s offensive performance.
“He played a good hockey game,” Hakstol said. “There were a lot of questions coming in how he handled things. We all felt inside our locker room that he has handled things well through some ups and downs.
“He was a solid player tonight. Sometimes, a little change for the sake of change is a good thing.”
Although they weren’t setting the net afire, the Flyers did have a better start to the game. Carolina is a speed team which forces you to match their pace and the Flyers responded in kind.
Carolina scored twice off coverage gaffes in the opening three minutes of the second period before Brandon Manning, surprisingly the club’s best defenseman thus far, went forehand/backhand on Eddie Lack for a clutch goal that gave the Flyers life.
Couple minutes later, Provorov set up Voracek, then Read with excellent point drives to turn the deficit into a 3-2 lead.
“It happens in games – you fall behind,” Provorov said. “All you have to do is stick with it. That’s what we did.”
Voracek now has seven points which leads the Flyers in scoring. He promised a bounce-back season after last year’s disappointment.
“He’s been pretty consistent right from camp all the way through,” Hakstol said. “Tonight was one of his better 60-minute performances. He played at a high level, start to finish.”
Meanwhile, Read was impressed with how Provorov responded after consecutive minus efforts. You can’t underestimate the importance of getting point shots through to generate goal scoring.
“He’s such a smart, heads-up player out there,” Read said. “He had a minus in Chicago, a couple bad bounces, things happened and he had a tough game.
“I still think every game, for a 19-year-old defenseman, making plays the way he is playing, it’s fun to watch out there. He keeps playing like this, he is gonna be a good D in this league for a long time.”