Short-handed Flyers prep for 'must-win' vs. Rangers

Short-handed Flyers prep for 'must-win' vs. Rangers

January 24, 2013, 9:45 am
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What could possibly be better for a winless hockey team than to face a team that outright owned and embarrassed them a year ago?
 
Six times the Flyers played the Rangers. Six times they lost.
 
They probably should have paid John Tortorella’s club rent money for their locker stalls at Madison Square Garden during visits there.
 
Tonight the 0-3 Flyers get a tired Rangers club in a back-to-back situation at Wells Fargo Center, following Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime win against the visiting Boston Bruins.
 
Given the current state of the Flyers, this might just be the perfect tonic Peter Laviolette’s club needs to snap out of its early-season slump.
 
Then again, the Flyers won’t have Scott Hartnell (left foot injury) or Brayden Schenn (suspension).
 
The Flyers need new captain Claude Giroux now more than ever.
 
“It’s a big game for us ... we've got to stay with it and show up [tonight],” Giroux said. “I’m just worried about [this] game.”
 
The Rangers so far aren’t much better than the Flyers, with a 1-2 record while goalie Henrik Lundqvist has a whopping 4.03 goals against average and terrible .877 save percentage?
 
Food for thought.
 
“They got the best of us for sure, last year,” Laviolette said. “Certainly, we’d like to fix that. Every year, things change. We need to get back on track, whether it’s the Rangers, the Devils or Penguins or Bruins.
 
“We need to win hockey games. I don’t necessarily think our record from last year holds weight either way. We have to show up and play a hockey game.”
 
Rangers general manager Glen Sather needed scoring help and went out last summer to trade for Rick Nash.
 
You look at the Rangers' roster, and frankly, it’s still better than the Flyers' and now they have Nash.
 
“They’re a tough team, period,” Laviolette said. “We’ll have to make sure we’re prepared. They have a good team and play a good game. We need to play a hockey game. We got a long way to go and a lot of hockey games.
 
“It would be great if the record were the other way around, but it’s not. We’re the only ones who can change. You’re not going to get the ho-hum story from me.”
 
With Schenn and Hartnell out, it’s possible both Jody Shelley and Tommy Sestito play, unless there is a call-up from the Phantoms. One of those players would have played, anyway, given the history between the two clubs.
 
A number of Flyers, including Wayne Simmonds, called this game a “must-win” after Tuesday’s loss in New Jersey and again on Wednesday.
 
“We had some pretty good battles last year against the Rangers and I think it’s in the back of our minds we didn’t get a win against them,” Simmonds said.
 
“We have to go out and prove we’re a pretty good team here. We’re not panicking, but we want the win. We’re 0-3 in here. Every game is crucial. We want to get the two points any way we can.”
 
Laviolette didn’t disagree.
 
“Any time your record is not where you want it to be, there is urgency on the game,” Laviolette said. “If there is wording or urgency to put on a game, he’s probably right.
 
“In saying that, we have to win a lot of games. Whether we win [tonight] or lose doesn’t guarantee us anything.
 
“We need to play a brand of hockey that successfully allows us to move forward. We have to do that consistently.”

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