NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Rangers do battle in big Metropolitan Division clash

Getty
1 Comment

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

It wasn’t so long ago that people were worried about Henrik Lundqvist and his string of poor performances.

From Jan. 3-17, Lundqvist played in six games and he came away with just two wins. What was even more concerning, was that he allowed four goals or more in all but one of those games.

Now, after rattling off three straight wins, it looks like he’s finally back to his old self. He was solid in last Thursday’s win over Toronto, but he really started looking dominant in a shutout of the Red Wings on Sunday and a big win over the Kings on Monday.

“You know, I think especially in this town, you just have to take a step back sometimes,” Lundqvist said, per the New York Daily News. “I don’t think you’re that bad, but you’re also not that good. It goes both ways. You have a couple of tough games and right away you have a lot of people asking questions, and the same thing when things are going well. You just try to stay cool and confident and keep doing the same things you’ve always been doing, because you know it’s gonna turn around for you.”

At this point, Lundqvist is projected to get the start tonight, but that still hasn’t been confirmed by head coach Alain Vigneault. Even if the Rangers do opt to rest him, the fact that he’s playing at such a high level gives everyone on the roster that much more confidence.

Rangers forward Derek Stepan summed it up perfectly after Monday’s win over the Kings: “If we’re gonna be great, we need Hank.”

Even though they’ve won three in a row, New York has slipped in the standings. Heading into tonight’s game, they sit in the top Wild Card spot with 63 points. They trail the Penguins, who are third in the Metropolitan Division, by two points (Pittsburgh has a game in hand).

There’s still a lot of race track left in the 2016-17 season, but if the Flyers want to make a push for a playoff spot, they’re gonna have to wake up soon.

They find themselves one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final Wild Card spot in the East. The problem is that the Leafs have three games in hand.

Philly is coming off a 3-2 OT win over the Islanders on Sunday, but prior to that game things had not been going well (understatement). They had lost five of their previous six games, and had allowed four goals or more five times during that stretch.

One of the biggest issues with the Flyers is that they consistently fall behind early. They’ve given up the first goal in 10 of their last 11 games, which is a recipe for failure on most nights.

“Playing with the lead is huge. . . . For us, starting games behind the eight ball isn’t easy for anybody, including goaltenders,” Steve Mason said, per Philly.com. “From a team mindset, we definitely want to strike first and have a good start.”

Another reason the Flyers are slumping is because of the lack of production from captain Claude Giroux. Thankfully for them, he was able to snap his 13-game goalless drought on Sunday. Hopefully, the goal gets him going in the right direction.