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Game 49, Preview and Game Thread: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers

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#6 New York Rangers (24-19-7, 55 pts) at #9 Philadelphia Flyers (24-21-3, 51 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM ET - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN Philly HD, MSG HD, Yahoo! Online
Radio: 610 WIP
This is the open game thread.
Get New York reaction at Blueshirt Banter

Most people around here probably have the idea in their heads that the New York Rangers suck. They haven't really been much of a threat over the last few seasons, they've had a ridiculous amount of roster turnover in that time, everybody knows they can't score and their success teeters on the health of Marian Gaborik's groin.

Don't tell the Rangers that, though.

Henrik Lundqvist is up to his usual ass-kicking, but instead of getting no support from his offense like normal, the Rangers have put 14 pucks in the opposing net in their last two games, an 8-2 rout of the Lightning on Monday and a 6-2 blitzing of Montreal on Saturday. And just as you're thinking "oh, it's probably just one line or two, no worries", stop that thought. Gaborik has in fact been on fire, with seven points in those two games, but against the Lightning 16 different players picked up points.

Who knows how long this scoring spell will last for the Rangers, but tonight the Flyers will have to deal with it. Hopefully, Jeff Carter and the boys can keep up their own high-scoring ways. Remember, our boys did post six on the Rangers at home way back in 2009.

Claude Giroux will stay at center again tonight, and the lines will be the same as we saw against Columbus on Tuesday. Donald Brashear is out of the Rangers lineup, so maybe he and Riley Cote can drop them in the press box or something.

Tonight's game has some pretty high stakes, as well. Some are calling it a must-win, and while we've denounced the use of that oft-used phrased, it's clear that it's an important game. The Rangers sit in sixth place while the Flyers sit in ninth, but with games in hand over New York, the Flyers can give themselves an edge with a victory here tonight. With a Florida win tonight over the Islanders as well as a Flyer win, of course, we'll be right back in the playoff picture.

Both teams are playing the best hockey of their seasons, and with the stakes high, tonight's game could be a doozy. Besides, it's Rangers versus Flyers. Avery sucks.

After the jump, line combinations, questions to answer, starting goaltenders, and our in-game discussion.

Flyers Line Combinations

Hartnell - Carter - Briere
Gagne - Richards - Powe
JVR - Giroux - Asham
Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere

Carle - Pronger
Coburn - Timonen
Tollefsen - Bartulis

Rangers Line Combinations

Prospal - Dubinsky - Gaborik
Drury - Christensen - Callahan
Higgins - Anisimov - Lisin
Avery - Boyle - Voros

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi
Redden - Gilroy

Starting Goaltenders

Ray Emery 23 1327 12 9 65 2.94 624 559 .896 1

Henrik Lundqvist 44 2551 22 15 96 2.26 1278 1182 .925 2

Questions To Answer

  1. Blair Betts, in his last game against his old team, the Rangers, jumped out and scored in the first minute. Does Betts have another solid game against his former team tonight?
    Can the Flyers jump out to a critical early lead yet again?
  2. Does the Flyers defense look over-matched against the suddenly potent Ranger offense?
  3. How long does it take Sean Avery to do something dumb?
  4. Ray Emery has slowly made progress in his last two games. Does that continue tonight?

Tonight's game is on CSN Philly locally, MSG in the New York metro, and streaming on Yahoo! everywhere else in the States. Listen at 610 WIP and, as always, join us here for the conversation. LET'S GO FLYERS!