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Flyers vs Rangers preview: Giroux out, Laughton in

With the mysterious case of Claude Giroux’s absence solved (he’s dead), the Flyers will face the Rangers tonight in their first matchup of the season.

tonights game against the rangers at msg sure will be fun and enjoyab-[sights and sounds of horrific car crash] [flashing images of a dumpster fire] [gasp from ‘radioactive’] [doc emrick saying ‘my goodness’ on repeat for three hours]
tonights game against the rangers at msg sure will be fun and enjoyab-[sights and sounds of horrific car crash] [flashing images of a dumpster fire] [gasp from ‘radioactive’] [doc emrick saying ‘my goodness’ on repeat for three hours]
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight will mark the Flyers first trip back to Madison Square Garden since their Game 7 loss in the first round of the playoffs last year. Whatever, though, that sucked and is best to be forgotten.

Remember Wayne Simmonds' hat trick? Ah, yeah. That's the good stuff.

Tonight's contest is the first of four meetings with the Rangers this season, and there's lots of news in the Flyers world, so let's jump right in.

Obviously a big storyline for tonight's game will be Michael Del Zotto's return to MSG for the very first time since his trade from the Rangers to the Predators just a little less than a year ago. You know the story: once Nashville let him walk, there weren't any calls coming his way. That's when the Flyers (eventually) stepped in. Now Del Zotto has been one of the best defensemen for the Flyers this season.

Another big story: Claude Giroux's passing has led the Flyers to make a couple of important roster moves. Blair Jones was sent down to the Phantoms in order to make room for Scott Laughton, who has been pretty dang great in Lehigh Valley.

There are sure to be a lot of questions with this announcement. What line will he skate on? Who will his linemates be? Is he here to stay or is this a Gostisbehere repeat, with Laughton to be sent back down once Claude Giroux returns?

And to be blunt, who knows?  He skated this morning centering Bellemare and Lecavalier, with Umberger on the top line again, but as you well know, these lines could shuffle like crazy if Berube doesn't think he's seeing what he wants to. Regardless of what the lines end up looking like over the next couple of games, it'll be good to get a look at Laughton thrown right into the thick of things. He's an exciting young player and even with Claude Giroux dead, we still have some things to look forward to.

As for the rest of the busted roster, Luke Schenn and Andrew MacDonald both skated again yesterday and are still listed day-to-day. Michael Raffl has been skating as well, but is apparently still weeks away from his own return.

On to the opposition...the Rangers are in much the same boat as the rest of the majority of the Metropolitan division: they're mediocre. Not great, like their trip to the Stanley Cup Final would suggest, but not bad either. Just a vague, non-committal hand-wavey gesture accompanied by some grumbling.

Overall, they're okay. More recently, they've been in a bit of a rough patch, with a 2-3-4 record in the last nine games played. In their last outing, the Rangers were beat soundly, 5-1, by the Tampa Bay Lightning. To add insult to injury, Ryan Callahan scored twice, which was fun for everyone except the Rangers.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault has confirmed that backup Cam Talbot will be in net for the Rangers, still looking for his first win of the season, while Steve Mason will get the start for the Flyers.

Without Henrik Lundqvist, who hasn't even been all that great or handsome lately [ed note: duh], or Ryan McDonagh, who has been injured for what's now approaching three weeks, or some consistency in the defensive zone, the Rangers aren't some giant that the Flyers are unable to best.

They're pretty evenly matched at this point, both sliding into the abyss of average, so let's hope and pray for a good outcome. Sacrifice a goat if you have one handy. The Flyers need some points tonight.

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