Tonight's game against the New York Rangers marks the midway point of this abbreviated 2013 NHL season for the Philadelphia Flyers, and amazingly, they'll shoot for their first win streak of the season when they take the ice at Madison Square Garden this evening.
New York Rangers (10-8-2, 22) at Philadelphia Flyers (11-11-1, 23)
7:30 p.m. | Madison Square Garden | Manhattan, N.Y.
TV: CSN Philly, NBCSN, MSG, TSN 2 | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the New York perspective at Blueshirt Banter
The Flyers can jump above the .500 mark (in terms of points percentage, at least) with a victory this evening, but more importantly, they can put a little bit of separation between where they sit, currently in the Eastern Conference's No. 8 spot, and where the Rangers sit in the No. 9 spot. The Rangers have played three fewer games than the Flyers and sit just one point back, making these head-to-head meetings all the more important.
It's an important test against a Rangers team that's much like the Flyers -- hell, they even have higher expectations this year -- in that they've struggled mightily through the first half of the year. Those struggles continued over the weekend when, despite beating Buffalo 4-3 in a shootout, they lost Brad Richards to a nasty check by Patrick Kaleta.
Kaleta was suspended five games for the hit, but the Rangers will almost certainly be without one of their top line pieces against the Flyers. He's technically considered a game-time decision but all indications are that he'll be out of the lineup. The Rangers recalled Micheal Haley (yes, he spells it wrong) from the AHL to fill in. A lucky break for us, but of course that's not the way we want it to happen.
The Flyers will likely re-insert Mike Knuble back into the lineup in place of the suspended Harry Zolnierczyk. We'd rather see Eric Wellwood, just recalled from Adirondack today, take that spot, but it doesn't look like we'll get our wish as Wellwood's likely just with the big club as insurance in case somebody else gets hurt tonight or on Thursday against Pittsburgh. We'd expect the lineup to stay nearly the same with Knuble just filling in on the fourth line. He's been a healthy scratch since last Wednesday's game vs. Washington -- the same game Simon Gagne returned to the Flyers.
Questions to Answer
- Jake Scoracek keeps going, right?
- Danny Briere had a big game last time vs. NYR (10 shots on goal, all over the ice, nothing to show on the score sheet). Can he repeat the bid and maybe net a goal or two this time?
- The Rangers are a dangerous team with Rick Nash in the lineup -- winless without him, 10-5-2 with him. Whether that's a fluke or not, he's also their leading scorer, so can the Flyers shut him down?
- How does Mike Knuble look in his return to action?