Thursday, April 9, 2009
Flyers (43-25-11) at Rangers (41-30-9)
This is it Rangers fans, one win in either of the next two games and the Rangers clinch a playoff spot. Why wait till Sunday? Let's get it done tonight on home ice and make Sunday's game mean nothing more than trying to pass Montreal for 7th in the East.
The Flyers have already clinched, but you know that they'll be doing their best to knock the Rangers out of playoff contention. Going into Philly on Easter Sunday needing a win won't be fun, so the Rangers need to come out firing on all cylinders tonight. Lundqvist needs to be at his best again and Chris Drury needs to be the captain that we saw on Tuesday against Montreal.
What to watch for:
The Rangers power play has been abysmal all season long. Meanwhile the Flyers lead the league with 16 short-handed goals (haven't given up a single SHG all season!) Remember that 3 on 5 short-handed goal that Mike Richards scored against the Rangers earlier this season? Yeah, it makes me cringe to! The Rangers power play needs to not only try and score tonight, they need to make sure that the Flyers' penalty killers don't.
The Dubinksy/Richards battle - everytime these two are on the ice together they try their best to throw the body around. They've already had a few fights in their short careers against each other, I don't expect that tonight, but both players always show their animousity towards each other.
Sean Avery - expect Avery to be Avery! At least that's what we hope for. He hasn't scored in 10 games but when the Rangers played the Flyers last and won 4-1, Avery scored two of those goals. I expect him to get back on the score sheet tonight.
Who on the Flyers to watch out for:
As I already said the Flyers Penalty Kill is extremely dangerous; especially Richards (7 SHGs), Gagne and Carter (each with 4 SHGs).
Jeff Carter is having a phenominal break out year - he has 44 goals (2nd in the league to Ovechkin) and has 80 points. Mike Richards also is having a very good season, with 30 goals and 78 points.
Marty Biron is a very hot & cold goalie (let's hope we see the cold Biron tonight).
Hey - it's a Rangers/Flyers game so the chances of a fight are pretty damn good. But, with the Rangers concentrating on getting the win and Philly determined to finish ahead of the Penguins (who are just 2 points behind them), both teams may stay out of the box. In an intense game with serious playoff implications, anything is possible. Riley Cote, the Flyers tough guy is out for the season after injuring his finger in a fight, so Colton Orr probably won't find a dance partner tonight.
As mentioned before Dubinsky & Richards is always a possibility - getting Richards off the ice for 5 minutes is definitely something that would favor the Rangers.
With Sean Avery buzzing around the ice, you never know when things could get out of control. You know that Richards and him have a history and trade deadline Daniel Carcillo is another guy willing to drop the gloves.
I'm going to go with the same prediction that I had Tuesday against Montreal, the Rangers with a 4-2 win.
Update from today's practice [Link]
ESPN's game preview [Link]
SNY Rangers with a breakdown of the NYR headlines [Link]
NY Post: Rangers Know Win = Playoffs [Link]