New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00 PM at Wells Fargo Center
Where To Watch: MSG 2
Where To Listen: 1130-AM Bloomberg Radio, and newyorkrangers.com
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Tonight, down the turnpike in Philadelphia, the Rangers (50-22-7, 107 pts) face the Flyers (46-24-9, 101 pts) in a game carrying late-season importance. For the Rangers a victory---or even an overtime defeat---would clinch first place in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage for at least the first three rounds of the playoffs. In addition a victory would finish off an almost unthinkable six-game season series sweep over the Flyers for the Blueshirts. However tonight's game is not only important from a Rangers point of view. The Flyers are locked in a battle with Pittsburgh for home-ice seeding in the first round of the playoffs. Heading into play today the Flyers are one point behind Pittsburgh for fourth place in the East, and both teams have three games to play. In addition, there is no way that Philly wishes to be swept by their rivals from Broadway this season, further making tonight's showdown an intriguing one. The Rangers are coming off Sunday's 2-1 home-ice loss to the Bruins, a game in which the coaches and players felt pretty good about most things, except the result. Still, the Blueshirts have won four of their last five overall, and six of eight. Also, they have won three straight on the road following an 0-3-1 dry spell away from The Garden. Philly is coming off of their rollicking 6-4 road win over the Penguins Sunday, one that ended with a huge brawl and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette climbing the glass to scream at his Pittsburgh counterparts Dan Bylsma and Tony Granato. Philly, which will be without the injured Danny Briere and Nicklas Grossman, is 4-1-1 in its last six matches. It is not yet known if goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has missed three straight games with a bone chip in his foot, will be able to play tonight or not for the Flyers.
The Rangers will be seeking their first six-game season series sweep over the Flyers since the 1971-72 season when the two teams clash tonight in Philly. The Rangers swept all three games played at The Garden this season, and have beaten the Flyers 3-2 in the outdoor Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Ballpark on January 2nd and 5-2 on February 11th at the Wells Fargo Center. In total the Rangers have outscored the Flyers 19-8 in teh first five games this season. Henrik Lundqvist has started all five games and has posted a 1.60 goals against average and a .947 save percentage in the series.
"We have a tough week. We played Boston (Sunday) night, and we play four good teams this week. We'll take them one at a time, and I think it's the best way we can prepare for the playoffs. I think it's great. We can't control the schedule, but the way it's laid out for us---Philly, Pitt, Washington---to prepare for the playoffs, this is a really good thing for this club."-John Tortorella
By The Numbers
Though the Rangers power play has struggled much of the season---currently converting at 15.1%---the Blueshirts have had good success on the man advantage against the Flyers. The Rangers are 5-for-19 on the power play against Philly, a 26.3% success rate. The Rangers were 3-for-7 in their last meeting against the Flyers, with Ryan Callahan notching two of those power play goals.
Coming off a three-point game Sunday afternoon, Philly's Claude Giroux enters play today with a career-best 89 points, third most in the NHL. He also has established career-highs with 28 goals and 61 assists. His assist total is second only to Henrik Sedin's 65 in the NHL this season.
Will the Rangers complete the sweep of the Flyers and clinch first place tonight? Share your predictions below.