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Game 81, Preview and Game Thread: Clinching Time on Broadway, Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers

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#8 Philadelphia Flyers (40-34-6, 86 pts) at #9 New York Rangers (37-33-10, 84 pts)
Madison Square Garden - 7:00 PM ET - New York, NY
TV: Comcast Network HD (again), Versus HD (in some areas), MSG Plus HD, RDS HD
Radio: 94.1 FM WYSP, XM 204, Sirius 208
This is the open game thread.
Get the New York perspective at Blueshirt Banter

The Flyers couldn't get any help this week from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. A Rangers loss that night would've put the Flyers in the postseason, but the hockey Gods decided that they wanted this weekend's home and home to hold some epic meaning.

And that's where we are tonight. The Flyers are in the playoffs with a win, and if they can do it in regulation, they'll end the Rangers season. It's do or die for one team, and predator versus prey for the other.

Let's be honest here. The Flyers are a better team than the Rangers. We know this and I think Rangers fans do, too. The Flyers clearly are better on offense, even when they aren't scoring like they can. They have a much more solid defense and they're better on special teams, too. The only edge the Rangers has is the obvious one in goal, but if Brian Boucher is playing with the confidence he's played with the last few games, and the defense is it's strong self in front of him, the Lundqvist advantage isn't going to matter.

In a game like this, though, the numbers don't matter. It's a playoff game, and when it gets to this point -- when everything is on the line -- it only matters who plays the hardest. The team that leaves everything on the ice, the team that -- yes, it sounds cliche -- wants it more, and the team that plays like a cohesive unit is going to win the game.

For the Flyers to win in New York tonight, they'll need all the emotion they can get. They have the boost from the return of Jeff Carter, who by all evidence (except Peter Laviolette being coy) is playing tonight. The orange and black need to control the play from the opening puck drop to the final whistle. If they do that, then by the time that whistle blows, the Rangers will have nothing left to play for, and the Flyers will be headed to the postseason.

After the jump, lineups, questions to answer and our in-game discussion.

Flyers Line Combinations

van Riemsdyk – Richards – Giroux
Gagne – Briere – Carcillo
Hartnell – Carter – Asham
Powe – Laperriere – Betts

Pronger - Carle
Timonen - Krajicek
Parent - Coburn

New York Line Combinations

Dubinsky - Christensen - Gaborik
Jokinen - Prospal - Parenteau
Voros - Drury - Callahan
Shelley - Anisimov - Prust

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi
Redden - Eriksson

Starting Goaltenders

2009 - Brian Boucher 31 1618 8 17 75 2.78 746 671 .899 1

2009 - Henrik Lundqvist 71 4079 34 27 163 2.40 2035 1872 .920 4

Questions to Answer

  1. Do the Flyers control the flow of the game out of the gate?
  2. What is Carter's impact on the game tonight?
  3. Does Brian Boucher display the same confidence he seemed to show against Toronto?
  4. Are the Flyers in the postseason at the end of the night?

Somehow, someway, the Flyers are on The Comcast Network again tonight. Yep. Biggest game of the year, relegated to the channel half the region can't get. Might be on Versus for some. Listen on 94.1 FM WYSP, another weird quirk -- Sixers on WIP, Phils on WPHT. Join us here for the conversation in-game, and LET'S GO FLYERS!