NHL Extra: Breaking down Rangers vs. Flyers

Looking for the numbers breakdown for how these two teams stack up? Look no further as we’ve got you covered as the Rangers take on the Flyers at 12:30 p.m. ET from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Insider’s Preview

CSN Philly’s Ryan Bright takes a look at both teams.

CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio looks at the Flyers facing adversity for the first time this year.

Team scoring

We took a look at how rough scoring has been of late for the Rangers. Overall this year, the Rangers have scored 186 goals, a mark that puts them 11th in the NHL. Their average is not so hot though at 2.67 goals per game  – a number that puts them 20th overall in the NHL. That’s not very good, even more so for a team looking to make the playoffs. Brandon Dubinsky is their leading scorer with 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists). Shockingly, Brian Boyle is the team’s leading goal scorer with 20. The team’s leading scoring defenseman is Dan Girardi with three goals and 23 assists. We’re a bit surprised ourselves to read that. The Rangers will get Marian Gaborik back in the lineup today and if all goes well he can get the offense generated for New York.

Philadelphia’s offense is a bit better. They’ve scored 208 goals this season, a mark that puts them fourth overall in the NHL. They goals per game average is a stellar 3.22, a mark that only trails Detroit and Chicago in the league. Claude Giroux is leading the team in scoring with 59 points (21 goals, 38 assists) while Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere are the top goal scorers with 28 each. Bad news today, however, is that Carter will not play because of illness. Matt Carle leads the scoring along the blue line with 29 points (1 goal, 28 assists) but Kimmo Timonen is just one point behind him. Scoring goals isn’t generally an issue for the Flyers.

Goaltending

There’s a stark difference between these two teams and it comes in goal. The Rangers come at you with all-world superstar Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is 26-23-4 this season with a 2.33 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. With the Rangers in a push for the playoffs and regular backup Martin Biron out with a broken collarbone, it’ll be Lundqvist or bust the rest of the way for New York. If Lundqvist sees trouble and gets chased from the game, Chad Johnson is his backup. No, this Chad Johnson doesn’t have a show on Versus with Terrell Owens, this one instead went to the University of Alaska and saw some playing time last season with the Rangers as well.

Philadelphia has been working an effective two-headed monster approach in goal with Brian Boucher and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky getting the start against Buffalo yesterday afternoon, Boucher gets the start today. Boucher this season is 15-7-2 with a 2.33 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Should Boucher get into trouble today, Bobrovsky’s record is 24-11-4 with a 2.52 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. They’ve each had streaks of outstanding play this season and when things have cooled off, one relieves the other and runs with the starts for a while. Will that work in the postseason? We’ll see.

Special teams

New York’s ability to kill penalties is a boon for them. The Rangers PK runs at 83% efficiency, good for 11th in the NHL. Their power play, however, could use a little work as the Rangers score 16.2% with the man advantage. A rate like that is good for 22nd in the league. Considering how much of a hard time they’ve had scoring goals at all, this isn’t much of a surprise.

Philadelphia has about the same sort of luck on the power play scoring at 16.6% of the time, good for 21st in the league. If you’re banking on penalties and power plays deciding this game, perhaps hoping teams will decline them would be better off. The Flyers PK is outstanding killing 84% of the power plays they face, a mark good for seventh in the league.

Streaks and standings

The Flyers are the top team in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with 86 points. They’re two points better than Boston for the overall top spot in the conference while they’re now just two points ahead of Pittsburgh for first in the division. The Flyers three game losing streak of late and being losers of five of their last seven has helped the Penguins and Bruins both catch up to them. What once was a dominating lead is now a fight to the finish atop the standings.

New York is seventh in the Eastern Conference with 72 points. Their lead on eighth place Carolina is just one point and ninth place Buffalo lurks behind them by two points. With the Rangers struggles of late, the pack has come back to them and the Sabres and Maple Leafs are within one hot streak of jumping into the playoffs and taking over their spot. If the Rangers want to avoid a scenario like they saw last year, racking up wins now would be a good idea.

Fisticuffs and agitation

Jody Shelley is in the lineup for Philadelphia today. The former Rangers enforcer will be out there to keep the peace or to throw fists with the likes of Brandon Prust of New York. With pests Sean Avery and possibly Dan Carcillo also suiting up for this game, expect things to be their usual spicy selves between these two rivals.

NHL Extra

If you’d like to ask James and I questions and get our thoughts on today’s game, you can join us for NHL Extra online and follow along with the action that way. To join us for NHL Extra click here. We’ll be kicking things off at 12:30 p.m.

NCAA standout Foo leaving school, will sign NHL deal this summer

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Spencer Foo, who racked up a whopping 62 points in 38 games this year for Union College, is forgoing his senior season to achieve his “life long dream of playing in the NHL.”

Where that dream takes place remains to be seen.

Foo, 22, won’t be back at Union in the fall, but will complete his spring term at Union and not sign with a pro organization until summer, per the Daily Gazette. The decision comes after a banner three seasons in school, capped off with a junior campaign in which he was nominated for ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and shortlisted for the Hobey Baker.

Foo has reportedly drawn interest from the Flyers. There have also been rumblings of the Oilers being in the mix — Foo is an Edmonton native — but it appears nearly every team has some level of interest. Consider this, from LA Kings Insider:

The Kings are among the teams involved in [Foo’s] courtship, and asked where the stiffest competition was coming from, I was told, “about 29 other teams.”

Foo is an undrafted free agent, so there’s no real rush for him to make a decision. Sounds like NHL teams are more than willing to wait it out.

Announcing the Hobey Hat Trick: Aston-Reese, Butcher, Vecchione

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Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese, Denver’s Will Butcher, and Union’s Mike Vecchione are the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

Aston-Reese, a 22-year-old forward, had 31 goals and 32 assists in 38 games this season. Undrafted, he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this month.

Butcher, a 22-year-old defenseman, had seven goals and 29 assists in 41 games for the Frozen Four-headed Pioneers. A fifth-round pick of the Avalanche in 2013, Butcher is still unsigned and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Aug. 15. It remains to be seen if the Avs will offer him a contract, though it’s been reported they will.

Vecchione, a 24-year-old forward, had 29 goals and 34 assists in 38 games. Undrafted, he’s expected to sign with an NHL team shortly — possibly the Flyers or Wild.

Jimmy Vesey, Jack Eichel, and Johnny Gaudreau were the Hobey Baker winners in each of the last three years.

After 12-game absence, Boychuk back for Isles

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The New York Islanders, four points back of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and having lost their last two games, will get a huge boost tonight on the blueline.

Johnny Boychuk, who’s missed the last 12 games with a lower-body injury, will return to the lineup on Thursday when the Isles take on the Flyers in Philadelphia. It’ll mark the first time the veteran defenseman has played since getting hurt back on Mar. 3.

(Boychuk draws in at the expense of Thomas Hickey, who’ll sit tonight.)

Needless to say, this is a massive addition for the Isles. Boychuk was averaging close to 21 minutes per night and had 21 points through 59 games before his injury, and led all New York defensemen in shots on goal.

The Isles are going to be an interesting team to watch down the stretch. It’s tough sledding, with five of their final seven contests being played on the road, though that’s mitigated by the fact they’re playing a bunch of teams outside of the playoff picture (Philly, New Jersey x2, Buffalo and Carolina).

McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now

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Charlie McAvoy could be in the Providence Bruins’ lineup as soon as Friday against Albany.

Providence also plays Saturday and Sunday, so even if it’s not Friday, the 19-year-old defenseman is expected to get his first taste of pro hockey sometime this weekend.

Of course, the real question is when his Boston Bruins debut may occur.

“He has the attributes to be able to play NHL games right now, absolutely,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, per the Providence Journal. 

McAvoy has yet to ink an NHL contract. He’s in Providence on an amateur tryout after making the decision to leave Boston University. If he plays an NHL game this season, the first year of the three-year entry-level contract he’ll sign would be burned.

Hence, Sweeney’s desire to see McAvoy in the AHL before making any decisions.

“This gives an opportunity for him, first and foremost, to get a chance to play professional games, which is another level for him. [We’ll] evaluate from there,” said Sweeney.

It’s certainly possible, given McAvoy’s talent, that he could help the NHL Bruins right now. The bar is essentially Kevan Miller, Boston’s third-pairing defenseman on the right side. (If McAvoy were a left shot, the bar would be slightly lower, with all due respect to John-Michael Liles.)

The NHL Bruins, who’ve yet to book a playoff spot, have six games left in their regular season. They host Dallas tonight, Florida Saturday, and then they’re in Chicago Sunday.

Assuming McAvoy stays with Providence all weekend, his first real chance to get into an NHL game would be Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

Stay tuned.

Read more: Bruins will leave door ajar for McAvoy