Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers

NHL Extra: Breaking down Flyers vs. Rangers

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 Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Insider’s Preview

CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio wonders which Flyers team will show up against the Rangers this afternoon.

Team scoring

Overall this year, the Rangers have scored 220 goals, a mark that puts them 15th in the NHL. Their average is… well, rather average at 2.72 goals per game  – a number that puts them 17th overall in the NHL. Brandon Dubinsky is their leading scorer with 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists). Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan each have 23 goals this year leading the charge there. The Rangers have five players with 20+ goals (Dubinsky, Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Brian Boyle, and Derek Stepan).

Philadelphia’s offense is a bit better. They’ve scored 245 goals this season, a mark that puts them fourth overall in the NHL. They goals per game average is a stellar 3.10, a mark that only trails Detroit, Vancouver, and Chicago in the league. Claude Giroux is leading the team in scoring with 72 points (25 goals, 47 assists) while Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere are the top goal scorers with 36 and 32 respectively. Unfortunately for Philly, Briere is out of today’s game.

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 33-26-5 this season with a 2.26 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Add in the 11 shutouts he’s got this year and you’ve got yourself a potential Vezina Trophy finalist. Lundqvist has been the biggest reason for the Rangers success this year. Now if they can just get him the goals to support him…

Philadelphia has been working an effective two-headed monster approach in goal with Brian Boucher and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. Boucher this season is 17-10-4 with a 2.45 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Meanwhile, Sergei Bobrovsky’s record is 28-12-6 with a 2.49 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. Bobrovsky gets the call to start this afternoon.

Special teams

The Rangers penalty kill runs at 83.2% efficiency, good for 13th in the NHL. Their power play, while still average, has improved a bit since Bryan McCabe arrived. The Rangers score 17.2% with the man advantage. A rate like that is good for 15th in the league. Acquiring McCabe didn’t make huge headlines, but it’s made a difference on the man advantage.

Philadelphia;s power play has been a bit more inept since we last saw them. The Flyers score 16.4% of the time, good for 21st in the league. The Flyers PK is outstanding killing 83.8% of the power plays they face, a mark good for eighth in the league. If you can’t score on the man advantage, you’d better be able to stop the opponents and the Flyers can do that.

Streaks and standings

The Flyers are the top team in the Atlantic Division with 102 points. After Washington’s overtime win over Buffalo last night, the Flyers are out of the Eastern Conference’s top spot for the first time in a long time this year. They’re three better than Boston in second place in the East. Meanwhile, the Penguins are lurking behind them in the Atlantic  by two points. A win for the Flyers today would get them back into first in the East and pad their lead on Pittsburgh. The Flyers have lost six of their last nine games to help put themselves in this precarious position.

New York is eighth in the Eastern Conference with 87 points. Their lead on ninth place Carolina is just one point and tenth place Toronto lurks behind them by three points. With the Rangers struggles of late losing three of their last four, Carolina and Toronto both have crept back into the picture. A Rangers win today would be destructive to both of their causes as it would then put Buffalo in eighth with 88 points and put both Toronto and Carolina another point further behind in the race for the playoffs.

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.

Clutter-bucks: Isles sign energy guy to five-year, $17.5 million extension

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Cal Clutterbuck #15 of the New York Islanders scores his second goal of the game at 9:53 of the third period against the Dallas Stars at the Barclays Center on January 3, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  The Islanders defeated the Stars 6-5. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders made a splash on Friday, signing veteran forward Cal Clutterbuck to a five-year, $17.5 million extension — one that carries a $3.5 million average annual cap hit through 2023.

Clutterbuck, 29, has two goals and nine points through 25 games this year, while averaging 15:26 TOI per night (his highest average since joining the Isles four years ago). As per usual, he leads the club in hits — one of the staples of his game — and serves as one of the club’s alternate captains.

This new contract represents a nice raise for the former Minnesota Wild man. His last contract, set to expire in July, was of the four-year, $11 million variety, and carried a $2.75 million cap hit.

This contract also resembles the one GM Garth Snow gave another of the club’s role forwards. This summer, Casey Cizikas signed a five-year, $16.75 million extension — one with a $3.35 million hit — despite the fact he’d never scored more than 30 points in a season, or averaged more than 14 minutes of ice time.

This style of spending — along with splashes made for free agent disappointments Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd — is sure to raise some questions. The Isles opted not to spend that money on retaining two of their key players from a season ago, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, and the club has struggled to find its form through the first quarter of this year.

Bettman: Salary cap could stay the same for next season

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman unveils the League's Centennial celebration plans for 2017 during a press conference at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Don’t expect a big jump in next season’s salary cap.

“We’re not going to give out any numbers now,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said yesterday, per Yahoo Sports. “The cap could range from where it is now to a couple or so million up, but we’re all going to have to focus on what makes the most sense moving forward.”

The salary cap only went up slightly for the current season, from $71.4 million to $73 million. The only slight increase was due to the lower Canadian dollar, which negatively impacted last season’s league revenues by “$100 or 200 million,” Bettman said earlier this year.

The loonie has been holding relatively steady for around half a year. It’s currently worth $0.76 USD and has been helped by the recent oil rally.

A flat salary cap would be bad news for big spenders like the Chicago Blackhawks, who still need to get Artemi Panarin signed to an extension. The Los Angeles Kings could also be forced to make some tough decisions, as they’ve got Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson in need of new deals. Ditto for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have key RFAs in Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, and Conor Sheary.

Related: Trades galore? McPhee expecting ‘a massive player redistribution before the expansion draft’

A few ‘bad decisions’ have been costing Lundqvist

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) reacts after giving up a goal to Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in New York. The Penguins won 6-1. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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Henrik Lundqvist has set such a high bar that his 12-8-1 record with a .912 save percentage is cause for great concern these days in New York.

That his backup, Antti Raanta, is 6-1-0 with a .932 save percentage only contributes to that concern, because if Raanta can manage those numbers, what’s Lundqvist’s excuse?

“I feel like I’m tracking the puck well, moving well,” Lundqvist told the Daily News. “It just comes down to some bad decisions at times that cost me.”

Indeed, December has not started well for The King. He’s allowed 10 goals in three starts for a save percentage of .894. In Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders, his decision to poke check a loose puck led to the winning goal by Andrew Ladd.

But while this month has been a struggle, it should be noted that Lundqvist was mostly excellent in November. He finished with a .925 save percentage, including that 40-save victory on Black Friday in Philadelphia.

Which is to say, he has more than earned the benefit of the doubt. Since 2008-09, Lundqvist has not finished a season with a save percentage below .920, and that is a remarkable achievement.

Raanta was solid again last night in Winnipeg, where the Rangers beat the Jets, 2-1. A starting goalie for tonight’s game in Chicago has not yet been announced, but Lundqvist is a good bet.

Top 10 career save percentages among goalies with at least 300 NHL starts

goalies

Jets send talented rookie Connor to AHL

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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Kyle Connor is on his way to the minors.

On Friday, Winnipeg announced that Connor — the former Michigan Wolverines star taken 17th overall in 2015 — has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.

Connor, 19, had just one goal and four points through 19 games this year, struggling to adjust to life at the professional level.

He’d been a healthy scratch for each of the Jets’ last six games and, prior to that, missed five games with an upper-body injury after getting nailed into the boards by L.A. forward Kyle Clifford.

The Jets are getting healthy up front, which further explains why Connor is on his way to the Moose. Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault both recently returned from injury.