Nearly two calendar years have passed since the Flyers last defeated
the New York Rangers in a hockey game. On February 20, 2011, Philadelphia
posted a 4-2 victory thanks in part to goals from Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Dan
Carcillo, and Kris Versteeg, not to mention 37 saves by Brian Boucher. To put
that in perspective, four of those players are wearing different uniforms, while the other since had a 'C' patched to his sweater.
The Flyers’ losing streak at the hands of the Rangers has
grown to eight in a row, including last season’s six-game sweep obviously. Over
that span, they’ve been outscored 34-13, including two shutouts, and have
earned only a single point in the standings. They’ve been beaten whether the
game was played home or away, indoors or outdoors in the Winter Classic. A Team
New York captained by Brad Richards even beat a Team Philly captained by Scott
Hartnell in an exhibition game during the lockout.
And every time it’s been Henrik Lundqvist in net, a riddle
the shooters in Orange & Black have been unable to solve. Last season alone,
he turned away 30 shots per game against the Flyers, racking up a 1.83 goals
against average and .942 save percentage in the process.
All of which wouldn’t appear to bode well for the home team
tonight, who have been experiencing some difficulty when it comes to scoring
through three games this season. The Flyers have tallied just three goals on
their way to their 0-3 start, and Giroux owns two of them. The other has been
their lone tally to come on a power play in 15 tries, a lowly 6.7% conversion
rate that ranks 28th in the NHL.
To make matters worse, they’ll be extremely short-handed
tonight. Both of G’s linemates are out tonight – Scott Hartnell with a foot
injury, Brayden Schenn serving his suspension – which means a brand new top
pairing featuring Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read. This of course will cause additional shakeups throughout the lineup. The club also remains without
Danny Briere or Zac Rinaldo, so they are a little thin at forward to say the
If there is any good news at all, it’s the Rags are making
the trip to the Wells Fargo Center on the second half of a back-to-back. The
Boston Bruins gave New York all they could handle in a back-and-forth battle
that finally ended in overtime off of Marion Gaborik’s third goal of the night
to clinch the 4-3 victory – only their first of the season. But any advantage –
home-ice, rest, or otherwise – is seemingly lost given all the absences that
are stacking up for the Flyers.
Simmonds is calling Thursday night’s game a “must-win.” That’s
probably a tad extreme, but if you thought 0-3 was a reason to panic, you’re
not going to feel any more comfortable if Philadelphia drops to 0-4.
Unfortunately recent trends are not swinging in the Flyers’ favor, so this
season still has the potential to get a lot worse before it gets better.
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