The Rangers return to Philly tonight for a 7pm tilt against the Flyers (on MSG). All of the hype is on the fact that it is the first game back since the Blueshirts shootout loss at the end of last season. But, despite many of the same names, these two teams are not the same as those that had that memorable 2-1 tilt.
Where We Are: On a two game win streak, playing the first of back-to-back and the opener of three in four days. In typical fashion, after choking in two lesser games against Southeast Division opponents, the Rangers bounced back against a pair of Original Six rivals. Now they are trading historical rivals for a current one with the Flyers.
Where They Are: Coming in on a four game win streak that raised their record to 7-4-1 and put them in first in the Atlantic. The Broad Street Bullies are playing their style of game, power hockey with the inevitable fisticuffs mixed in.
Who To Watch For: Sergei Bobrovsky. The young Russian has gotten off to a great start as the stater in the Philadelphia crease. He took over for the injured Mike Leighton and has allowed more than three goals just once in eight starts this season (6-2). Most Flyer fans I know are not yet sold on this kid, having been jaded by good bursts of play by many a netminder over the last 15, 20 years but we may very well be hoping he drives a Porsche in the near future. Claude Giroux has been red hot with seven points (four goals and three assists) over the four wins. That muppet Scott Hartnell has buzzed his fur but has eight points in his last eight games and the oft-rumoured-to-be-traded Jeff Carter has eight points over his last four. The Rangers often have to worry about their former players coming back and haunting them but Philly is realizing Nik Zherdev is a lazy, soft, one-way player and have busted him down the lineup after two points (both goals) in 10 games and a lot of lackadaisical play. Another former Ranger, Ian Laperriere, won't be playing and sadly may be forced to call it a career as he is still dealing with serious post-concussion symptoms.
What To Watch For: If the Rangers stick to their block party game, which likely won't work against the Flyers. Unlike the last two opponents, the orange and black follow their shots with physical play and the Rangers would be hard-pressed to stand up to the deluge of bodies. The battle that is sure to ensue between Dubinsky and Pronger and how Arty handles the more physical Flyers. Some Flyer (Leino?) stepping up to fill the void left by the suspended Danny Briere.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Someone, anyone standing up for Henrik Lundqvist. Hank admitted after the shootout loss that he was utterly exhausted and that was because the Flyers spent much of the game within a few feet of his crease. Well, that can't happen. Boogaard was signed for this game and he needs not to just have some meaningless, preplanned tilt against Jody Shelley - he needs to be the intimidating enforcer that Sather claimed he was. Avery to do that voodoo that he does so well against Hartnell. Someone, anyone to keep Dirtbag Dan Carcillo at bay. Mike Sauer to have another strong game and Grachev to finally use his size to stand up and make an impact.
Also Check Out: Flyer Files is a MSM blog, SBN hosts Broad Street Hockey and you can stop by The 700 Level.