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Flyers-Rangers: Game 75 Preview

With the Philadelphia Flyers' hold on a playoff spot fading, the Orange and Black will need a win over their rivals, the New York Rangers. 

By Dan Heaning, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Philadelphia Flyers' recent slump has made their playoff positioning a bit tenuous. If they are to qualify for the postseason, they must win games against nonplayoff teams like their opponents tonight in the New York Rangers as the rivals clash at the Wells Fargo Center with puck drop set for just after 7.

The Flyers sit in the top wild card spot after the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated these very same Rangers on Tuesday with Philadelphia dropping their contest against the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout. The Orange and Black are in the dubious position of being five points out of first place in their division and five points away from being out of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Rangers face zero pressure in tonight's game. The Blueshirts will not be making the playoffs and sold off players like Michael GrabnerRyan McDonagh and Rick Nash at or near the NHL trade deadline. This current crop of Rangers are going to play loose as they have for the past month. The result has been a troublesome spoiler team with players like Mika ZibanejadChris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich playing their best hockey of the season.

However, the Rangers still are without some veteran defensemen. If the Flyers are to come away with a win tonight, they will have to take advantage of the young, inexperienced defenders New York will ice.

Team Leaders

Philadelphia Flyers GP G A P New York Rangers GP G A P
Claude Giroux 74 26 61 87 Mats Zuccarello 72 15 34 49
Jake Voracek 74 18 61 79 Mika Zibanejad 63 25 18 43
Sean Couturier  74 30 40 70 Pavel Buchnevich 65 14 28 42
Shayne Gostisbehere 70 13 42 55 Kevin Hayes 67 21 16 37
Wayne Simmonds 67 23 20 43 Chris Kreider 49 14 19 33

 

Player to Watch
14 Sean Couturier 93 Mika Zibanejad
Last 5 Games: 1 G, 6 A, 7 P, 4 Last 5 Games: 6 G, 3 A, 9 P, +3
 
Now that Sean Couturier is off the goal-scoring snide after notching his 30th of the season and 100th of his NHL career, he must recommence putting the puck in the net on a consistent basis. Unfortunately for Couturier, his production has become key for the Flyers and their playoff push. In Couturier's 15-game goalless drought, the Flyers went 8-6-2 and essentially claimed a top three spot in the division and lost it in that span. The Flyers are 14-3-7 when Couturier scores a goal and with Philadelphia steadily losing its grip on a postseason spot, the team will need Couturier to earn a few more tallies if they are to reach the playoffs.
 
While Mika Zibanejad hasn't turned the corner as the first line center the New York Rangers hoped he would become after they dealt Derick Brassard for him, Zibanejad has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat in the past 10 games with 12 points in that stretch. That run coupled with the likes of Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich and Jesper Fast producing at least a point per game has the Rangers offense humming. If the Flyers are to overcome a team they've had immense trouble against over the past six or so seasons, they will need to keep the balanced Rangers lines at bay and that will start with the most dangerous Blueshirt at the moment, Zibanejad.
 
Goalie Matchup
49 Alex Lyon 40 Alexandar Georgiev
3-2-1, 2.24 GAA, .914 SV% 3-2-1, 2.94 GAA, .922 SV%

When the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek it was known that the Czech goaltender had issues remaining consistent. In his short time wearing the Orange and Black, Mrazek has been at times spectacular and other times dreadful. Since his arrival in late February, Mrazek has put together three outings with save percentages over .900. Couple that with the strong play of Alex Lyon of late, and the Yale alum will get the start against the Rangers tonight. In nine NHL appearances, Lyon only has three games where he recorded a save percentage below .900. Lyon has been tasked with mop-up duty and performed well in that role but has also played very well in the games he started. Even in a losing effort to the Bruins, Lyon was solid and look to remain the more consistent goaltender left at the team's disposal.

Henrik Lundqvist has been feast or famine against the Flyers this season and took a scary hit against Columbus on Tuesday night so Philadelphia will be introduced to Alexandar Georgiev. The young goaltender has been rock solid for the Rangers since joining the team. In his seven appearances, of which there are six starts, he has only two outings with save percentages lower than .900. During that stretch, Georgiev has faced 37 or more shots five times so the rookie is seeing plenty of action. Georgiev is quite capable of stealing a game this early in his career as he has stymied the likes of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers during his time in the NHL.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Injuries: Michael Raffl is out for two weeks with an upper-body injury. Brian Elliott is recovering from core muscle surgery and is nearing the end of his five-to-six weeks recovery time. Michal Neuvirth is out four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury. Johnny Oduya is out with a lower-body injury and his recovery time is uncertain.

Scratches: Dale Weise, Taylor Leier, Robert Hagg

Left Wing Center Right Wing
28 Claude Giroux 14 Sean Couturier 11 Travis Konecny
54 Oskar Lindblom 19 Nolan Patrick 93 Jake Voracek
40 Jordan Weal  51 Valtteri Filppula 17 Wayne Simmonds
15 Jori Lehtera 21 Scott Laughton 24 Matt Read
Defense    
9 Ivan Provorov 53 Shayne Gostisbehere  
23 Brandon Manning 3 Radko Gudas  
6 Travis Sanheim 47 Andrew MacDonald  
Goalie    
49 Alex Lyon    

Lineup Notes: It is being speculated that Hagg's scratch has something to do with returning from injury early. Though, comments from head coach Dave Hakstol imply more that the move is about chemistry.

Rangers Projected Lineup

Injuries: Kevin Shattenkirk is out with a torn meniscus, however, is due back in the lineup soon. Ondrej Pavelec is recovering from a sprained MCL and is also due back in the Rangers lineup soon. Steven Kampfer is suffering from a fractured hand but is nearing the end of his four-to-six week recovery timeframe. Anthony DeAngelo is out for three to four weeks with a left ankle sprain.
 
Left Wing Center Right Wing
20 Chris Kreider 93 Mika Zibanejad 17 Jesper Fast
23 Ryan Spooner 13 Kevin Hayes 36 Mats Zuccarello
26 Jimmy Vesey 90 Vladimir Namestnikov 89 Pavel Buchnevich
8 Cody McLeod 51 David Desharnais 28 Paul Carey
Defense    
18 Marc Staal 44 Neal Pionk  
76 Brady Skjei 25 Ryan Sproul  
46 Rob O'Gara 58 John Gilmour  
Goalie    
40 Alexandar Georgiev    

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (17th, 23rd at home), Rangers (7th, 9th on road)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (27th, 29th at home), Rangers (7th, 8th on road)
  • Recent History vs. Rangers
    • Feb. 18, 2018 - Flyers 7, Rangers 4 (at NYR)
    • Jan. 16, 2018 - Rangers 5, Flyers 1 (at NYR)
    • April 2, 2018 - Rangers 4, Flyers 3 (at NYR)
  • Milestone Watch
    • Jake Voracek is one assist away from 300 as a Flyer and six assists away from 400 in his career.
    • Valtteri Filppula is six assists away from 300 in his career.
    • Claude Giroux is seven assists away from matching Bill Barber's 463 total for third in franchise history.

Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Radio: 93.3 WMMR

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