Flyers-Rangers: What you need to know

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Flyers-Rangers: What you need to know

Flyers at Rangers – 7:30 p.m., CSN
Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

Records
Flyers: 11-11-1 (Third in Atlantic Division, Eighth in Eastern Conference)

Rangers: 10-8-2 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, Ninth in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
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.

Previous games
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.

Who's hot
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.

Who's not
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.

Injuries
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.

Sound off
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?

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NHL draft, on Saturday afternoon added some CHL hardware to their trophy case.

Patrick won the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award, beating out Hischier and Windsor's Gabriel Vilardi, while Hischier edged Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi and Guelph's Ryan Merkley for the CCM Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries forced Patrick to play just 33 games this season, but he still produced at a point-per-game pace for Brandon. He finished with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Mooseheads, his first season in the QMJHL after coming over from Switzerland.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. If the draft goes as projected, the Flyers will come away with either Patrick or Hischier, whoever the New Jersey Devils do not pick.

The 2017 NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.

Missing history
Flyers prospect Carter Hart had a chance to become the first goalie in CHL history to win the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice, but this year's award went elsewhere.

Owen Sound goalie Michael McNiven on Saturday afternoon took home the 2016-17 CHL Goaltender of the Year Award. McNiven was 41-9-4 for the Attack this season. He posted a 2.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with six shutouts.

McNiven led the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage, and his six shutouts were tied with Windsor's Michael DiPietro for the league lead. His 41 wins were tops in the OHL.

Hart, 18, posted a 32-11-6 record in 54 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17. His 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts were all ranked No. 1 in the WHL.

Despite missing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award this year, Hart previously did win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season. He was twice named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week and had a shutout streak of 193 minutes and 48 seconds during the regular season.

Hart was one of three second-round picks by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft.

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

The topic: The expansion draft, who to protect and best guesses at Vegas' selection.

Dougherty
We have and will continue to discuss in detail the entry draft, but we haven't talked much about the June 21 expansion draft. That's what we're doing today.

The expansion draft will affect the Flyers' plans this summer because they will be losing a player to Vegas, but the impact will be a minimum. They will not lose any core pieces.

How the expansion draft works: Teams have two options in protecting players. They can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. The expectation is the Flyers will protect seven forwards, three D-men and a goalie.

There are six forwards and two defensemen who are obvious protections: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas. Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are exempt.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will have decisions to make on who the seventh forward and third defenseman he protects. Then there is the goalie protection.

That leaves forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Nick Cousins, Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Jordan Weal and Dale Weise; and defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning.

Losing any of those six forwards would not be major blows to the Flyers. Now on the blue line, it gets interesting. My prediction is that the Flyers will choose to protect Manning with the hope Vegas takes MacDonald's contract.

Probably isn't going to happen.

Of the goalies, I don't think Vegas will have any interest in Anthony Stolarz, especially since he tore his right MCL in April. So that should cut the question here. That would mean the Flyers protect Michal Neuvirth, whom they signed to a two-year extension.

So what is my best guess at who Vegas plucks from the Flyers?

I think it will be a toss-up between Laughton and Raffl. I suspect the Flyers will re-sign Weal before the draft and then protect him, or have a verbal understanding they'll sign him after the expansion draft. Both parties appeared interested in him coming back.

My pick? Let's go with Laughton, a former first-round pick who turns 23 on Tuesday.

Laughton hasn't panned out as the Flyers hoped. He spent last season in Lehigh Valley and both Leier and Weal earned call-ups over him. I think that is a telling sign here.

So I'm predicting Laughton going to Vegas, where a change of scenery helps him out and the Golden Knights get a young forward that can slot into a third- or fourth-line role and still has upside.

Hall
There's a lot to the expansion draft — tons of possibilities and things can still change before June 21 that could impact the Flyers' decisions.

Albeit unlikely, Steve Mason could re-sign, which would obviously affect the Flyers' protection plan at goalie. Assuming that doesn't happen, I think the Flyers protect Neuvirth, especially considering Stolarz's health is in question this offseason and he may not be the true goalie of the future. Stolarz is also a pending restricted free agent, so he'll have to receive his qualifying offer from the Flyers before the expansion draft.

Now, let's say the Flyers go with the seven-forward, three-defensemen approach.

The blueliners are pretty clear: Gostisbehere and Gudas will be protected, as it comes down to MacDonald and Manning. I feel the organization thinks a bit more of MacDonald and his versatility compared to Manning, whose two-year deal last summer was likely strategic on the Flyers' part in planning for this expansion draft.

As for the forwards, Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Schenn, Filppula and Couturier are staying put. I believe Weal will be re-signed and protected.

Ultimately, I could see Raffl being Vegas' choice. At 28 years old, he's not super young or inexperienced, but also not old by any means, and the winger can play all four lines because of a well-rounded game that complements different styles.

Raffl's injuries last season (abdominal, knee) may cause red flags. At the same time, the Golden Knights should be intrigued by the two seasons prior in which Raffl played all 82 games of 2015-16 (and was a plus-9) after scoring a career-high 21 goals in 2014-15.

A loss of Raffl wouldn't be ideal, but not as damaging given the Flyers appear to be gaining more depth and youth at forward.

Paone
June 21's expansion draft will be the biggest wild card of the NHL summer. And that's not just some corny pun because it involves an expansion team from Vegas.

It'll be the first piece of player movement during the offseason, coming before the entry draft and free agency. But since it will be the first piece of player movement of the offseason, it will help mold how the Flyers and the rest of the teams around the league approach their summers.

None of the Flyers' "big guns" will be on the move and my gut tells me the Flyers will be protecting Neuvirth as they want him to shoulder the starting load this coming season.

We don't know exactly what Vegas is looking for in the expansion draft because general manager George McPhee is keeping that close to the vest. But if I'm the Golden Knights' GM, youth is at the top of my wish list.

That leaves three Flyers to stick out in my mind — Weal (25), Cousins (turns 24 in June) and Laughton (turns 23 on Tuesday).

After the sparkplug Weal was down the stretch with eight goals and four assists in 23 games, the Flyers should reach a new deal with the UFA and keep him in Philadelphia.

That leaves Cousins and Laughton.

My instinct tells me Vegas will gamble (sorry, still getting used to this whole Vegas having a team thing) on Laughton, a former first-round pick.

There's a reason he was a first-rounder in 2012. The guy can play, even if he hasn't shown it consistently in Philadelphia. But remember he's been yanked back and forth between the AHL and NHL on numerous occasions and when he's been with the big club, he's either been in the press box as a scratch or been tossed back and forth between center and wing. That constant instability in both level and position can be detrimental to a young player. Vegas would give Laughton a fresh start, a fresh home and some fresh stability.

Plus, I know there are only so many protections to go around, but Cousins is a guy the Flyers should want to keep around. Just 16 points (six points, 10 assists) in 60 games isn't good enough offensively, but not many Flyers were great offensively last season. Everyone needs to be better there. But Cousins has that pest intangible that can be so effective, especially in the rugged Metropolitan Division, where basically every game is a rivalry game. It's a good quality to have.