NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET.
This game is a battle for the eighth seed, with the Philadelphia Flyers holding onto it by just one point despite having played in three more games than the New York Rangers — and few people would have predicted that statement would be true close to the halfway point of the 2013 campaign.
It’s safe to say that the Flyers and Rangers starts rank among the most disappointing, but they’ve both enjoyed some recent success that might mark the turn of their respective campaigns.
For Philadelphia, it helps that they’ve gotten one of its key contributors last season, Scott Hartnell, back now that he’s recovered from a broken foot. The recent acquisition of Simon Gagne has also bolstered their depth.
Combined that with captain Claude Giroux heating up and finding the back of the net hasn’t been a serious issue for the Flyers lately.
The New York Rangers can’t say the same. So far Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, and Brad Richards have combined to miss just four games (although Richards missed Monday’s practice), but despite the relatively good health of their three elite forwards, the Rangers have been among the worst teams offensively this season.
As a result, they’ve only won twice this season when Henrik Lundqvist or Martin Biron has allowed three or more goals. Fortunately for the Rangers, Lundqvist is having another great year after a shaky start and has dominated the Flyers over the last couple seasons.
He’ll try to force that trend’s continuation, but that will be a serious challenge now that the Flyers offense has heated up.
Probable goaltenders: NYR – Lundqvist (9-7-1, 2.28 GAA, .918 SV%) | PHI – Ilya Bryzgalov (11-9-1, 2.61 GAA, .907 SV%)
Top scorers: NYR – Nash (5-11-16, 16 GP) | PHI – Jakub Voracek (9-16-25, 23 GP)
New York – Forwards: Brad Richards (undisclosed), Arron Asham (back) Defensemen: Michael Sauer (concussion)
Philadelphia – Forwards: Tye McGinn (eye), Matt Read (ribs), Jody Shelley (hip) Defensemen: Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion), Chris Pronger (concussion)