After a bipolar weekend of hockey in South Florida, the Flyers will look for their third win of the young season and their second win against the New York Rangers. They're at Madison Square Garden tonight to take on one of the East's best.
Zac Rinaldo could play tonight for the first time since getting cut by a skate. CSN reports that he skated at MSG this morning but is still unsure of how he feels heading into the game.
If he does play, who will he replace? It seems obvious that the Flyers would sit Tom Sestito to get Rinaldo back into the lineup, but Big Tom was one-third of the fourth line that played so well against the Rangers a week ago. The Flyers love Sestito's size against the Rangers, and there's definitely something to having a beefed up lineup against the Rangers. It was pretty evident that the physical game helped the Flyers take control of last week's matchup early on in the first period, and the Flyers were all over NYR physically all evening. Laviolette surely wouldn't mind a repeat of that.
Personally, I'd opt to put the best team on the ice possible -- that means Eric Wellwood would be here, Tye McGinn would be on the ice and both Sestito and Jody Shelley would be out. But it wouldn't shock me to see the Flyers replace McGinn -- whether it's with Shelley or Sestito, depending on Rinaldo's status -- against the Rangers. Size, grit, etc.
Reports indicate that Andreas Lilja will likely be in for Kurtis Foster tonight, shaking up the defense a bit. The top two pairings stay the same, but it would be Lilja and Bruno Gervais on the bottom pairing should this change happen.
Ilya Bryzgalov gets the start vs. Henrik Lundqvist. Bryz was particularly great last week against the Rangers and really helped seal the deal as part of a great 5-on-3 penalty kill in the third period. Likely that they'll need to lean on him again tonight. He's well-rested and should be up for the task, as he has been all year thus far.
Shutting down New York's potent top line of Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards will be key again tonight. Seriously, those dudes were invisible last week -- a pretty remarkable feat.
As amazing as that top unit looks, though, the Rangers are really a two line team after their second unit of Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan. Behind that you have a mix of Jeff Halperns and Taylor Pyatts. John Tortorella really shortened his bench in last week's game while the Flyers successfully rolled four lines all night. Getting another early lead and a fast start will be key here again tonight, especially on the road. Puck drop at 7 p.m.