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Flyers vs Rangers - 2/5/2012

Guest Digityman

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It's going to have to be a complete game effort today.

Hopefully the Flyers were saving themselves for today.....

If the Flyers (30-15-6) are to defeat the Atlantic Division leading New York Rangers (32-12-5) for the first time this season, they are going to have dig deep and manage their energy properly. Philadelphia is playing on back-to-back days and for the third time in less than four days while the Rangers are a rested team that has not played since Wednesday.

Today's matinee at Madison Square Garden starts at 1 PM and will be broadcast locally on CSN Philly. This is the fourth of sixth meetings between the teams this season, and the third and final one in New York. New York won the previous MSG meetings by 2-0 and 4-2 scores and then came back from a 2-0 deficit at the Winter Classic to win, 3-2.

The Flyers are a notoriously poor team in afternoon games, and they have had major defensive and penalty killing problems if afternoon tilts this season. The ugly numbers: Philly enters today's game with a 4-6-1 record in afternoon games. Four times they've allowed six goals, and gave up five regulation goals another time (6-5 shootout loss to Boston). The Flyers have also been shut out twice, including once by the Rangers.

Anything can happen in any gamem but the last thing the Flyers want to do today is play from behind against the Rangers. New York enters this game with an NHL-best .885 winning percentage (23-1-2) when scoring first. The Flyers can attest to the fact that the Blueshirts can also come back when trailing, but overall, the odds of beating the Rangers improve dramatically when you force John Tortorella's club to play from behind. Overall, the Rangers are ranked 10th (9-11-3, .391 winning percentage) when trailing first.

In terms of trying to mount a third-period comeback against New York -- on fresh legs, much less tired ones -- you can pretty much forget it. The Rangers are 19-0-2 when leading after two periods this season and were 29-0-0 in those situations last year.

It is absolutely critical for the Flyers to establish an early lead and then find a way to hang on. Staying out of the penalty box -- something that hurt them immeasurably in yesterday's 6-4 loss to the Devils -- is vital.

Ilya Bryzgalov will probably need to play one of his best games as a Flyer if the team is to win today. Bryz has played very well in both starts since the All-Star break and he was also sharp in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky yesterday. Rangers counterpart Henrik Lundqvist, who would be a shoo-in for the Vezina Trophy if the season ended today, brings back-to-back shutouts into today's game.

On the injury front, the Flyers are still without Danny Briere (concussion) and James van Riemsdyk (concussion). For the Rangers, defensemen Michael Sauer (concussion) and Steve Eminger (shoulder) are on injured reserve.

PROJECTED LINEUPS (subject to change)


Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr

Rinaldo - Schenn - Simmonds

Talbot - Couturier - Voracek

Sestito - Read - Shelley

Timonen - Coburn

Carle - Bourdon

Lilja - Meszaros




Dubinsky - Richards - Callahan

Hagelin - Stepan - Gaborik

Fedotenko - Boyle - Prust

Rupp - Anisimov - Mitchell

Del Zotto - Staal

McDonagh - Girardi

Strålman - Bickel




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