The Flyers have a chance to do something on Tuesday night
that they haven’t yet in 2013. No, I don’t mean eclipse .500, although yeah,
that too. With a win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Flyers
could finally win their third game in a row for the first time this season.
As the debate swirls over whether or not the Flyers are a legitimate
contender for the Stanley Cup or even a playoff team, head coach Peter
Laviolette and many of his players have talked a lot about the need to “string
wins together.” Their inability to do so is a big reason why they’ve been
spinning their wheels in the early potion of their schedule.
Then again, while we’ve mentioned it about one hundred times
already, the Flyers had a built-in excuse during the early stages of the season.
It’s hard to expect any team to play to their highest level during a stretch of
19 games in 34 days.
Now they head up to New York fresh and in relatively good
health, coming off of one game in five days. The only excuse not to start stringing
together wins is they simply aren’t good enough – not what anybody will want to
hear as the Flyers simultaneously reach the season’s midway point.
Of course, the Rangers are no slouches either. They enter
this tilt as winners of two straight, just one point behind the Flyers for
third place in the division with three games in hand. The Rags have sort of flown
under the radar in the always-crowded Atlantic, at least compared to the lofty
Stanley Cup predictions some held for them entering the year. They’re certainly
in the mix.
Not surprising, New York is one of the better defensive
teams in the NHL with Henrik Lundqvist in net. While his numbers are down slightly
compared to previous seasons, the Rangers are ranked ninth in goals against per
The defensive numbers have helped carry the club’s skaters, whose
own offensive output surprisingly ranks 23rd (2.45). To make matters
worse they’ll be without Brad Richards, who was the victim of a dangerous hit at
the hands of Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta on Sunday. Richards is third on the squad
with 13 points.
So far the season series is split at two apiece. The Flyers
finally got a big monkey off their backs by getting their first W over the Rags
in nine tries back in January. New York turned around and took their two points
back five days later. Both results were 2-1 finals, so it’s been a low-scoring
series – although the Flyers’ offense has turned it around quite a bit since
In order to turn it around, Philadelphia will have to
overcome the Rangers’ stinginess at home along with their own poor road record.
The orange sweaters are 4-8 outside their own building, while New York is 8-4-1
at the Garden.
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