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Flyers vs. Rangers preview: Win and we’re in, folks

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Or like an OT/SO loss, but let’s just win here just to make things real easy.

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, there are a bunch of crazy playoff scenarios floating around the internet, but the good news is that the Flyers can clinch a playoff berth today with a point of any kind against the Rangers.

It’s just that simple. And it’s easy to play, Scott.

This isn’t quite the DEFCON levels of 2010, where the Flyers topped the Rangers in a play-in game (in a shootout no less), as the Flyers could still get in if Florida does anything besides getting wins on Saturday (7 pm vs. Buffalo) and Sunday (7:30 pm at Boston). Now if the Flyers do in fact lose in regulation to New York, they’ll risk potentially having to go to an 83rd game if the following tiebreakers (points, ROW & goal differential) end up the same for both clubs.

Now a lot has to happen for things to get to that point, but the best outcome possible is to just beat the Rangers on Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, though one point would suffice.

The Flyers have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and should come out with a strong effort early to jump on a Rangers team that has a bunch of new faces and has nothing to play for but being spoilers. That can be dangerous, but again this team publicly raised the white flag weeks ago and is just 60 minutes away from a nice summer on the golf course.

That said, old friend Henrik Lundqvist has been dusted off (how convenient) to meet the Flyers in game 82 in Philadelphia once again. The veteran has almost always had the Flyers’ number except for that fateful shootout that included goals from Danny Briere and some guy named Claude Giroux.

Speaking of Giroux, the captain is straight fuego right now with 14 points in his last nine games and goals in four-straight to pace the Flyers’ playoff push. Doesn’t sound Hart worthy to me, either. The 30-year-old is at 99 points for the year and will no doubt be hungry to add a few more and continue to will his club to the postseason dance. Again, does not at all sound MVP worthy in any sort of way.


Three things to watch for

Get to stupid, sexy Lundqvist

Lundqvist sports a 35-15-4 record with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage along with four shutouts in 56 career games against the Flyers. However, in two games this year he’s allowed eight goals on 63 shots (.873), including seven goals back on February 18th.

The Flyers want to get off to a good early start against any team and goalie, but against one that has largely been a thorn in their side it will go a long ways to get the first goal and go from there in this one.

Though we’re sure that Henrik hasn’t forgotten about that shootout all those years ago, he’ll likely need a stellar performance to help spoil the Flyers’ playoff plans. Though he’s capable, as evidenced by his recent 40 save outing in a 2-1 win over Carolina, he also surrendered five goals on 44 shots his last time out against New Jersey three nights ago.

[Ed. note: Henrik Lundqvist is actually ugly. Just wanted to make sure we all had that information. Thanks!]

Get the first goal

Again, can’t really stress this enough. Getting down early has been an issue and this is one game the Flyers do not want to have to surge late in. As we saw in the Islanders game the Flyers are certainly capable of a comeback, but they won’t always be so lucky as to come from behind in games like the Carolina game and live to tell the tale.

Scoring first would also ease some of the nerves that will undoubtedly be there among the players. Look at the end of the day they’ll all say the same thing that it’s just another game, but they know it’s different and the first goal would help settle things down and keep them from pressing as the game goes on. We’ve all seen the Flyers press at both ends of the ice, and it’s not pretty so avoiding that by scoring early would be a huge boost.

Star Saturday

Giroux has goals in four-straight, and while a goal would be nice any points from captain per his current pace would be exactly what the doctor ordered. Look, the guy is locked in right now and it would not surprise to see him notch another multi-point day leading the Flyers.

But Giroux aside, his mates Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, and Travis Konecny among others need to help out the captain, too. We’ve seen that counting on secondary scoring — though Nolan Patrick and Oskar LIndblom have stepped up recently — can produce some murky results for the Flyers so the big guns getting involved as they have been will continue to be key.

The best players want the puck on their stick with the game and season on the line, and the Flyers have some darn good ones and they’ll be out and ready to will their team to another win to seal their playoff berth.


Flyers projected lineup

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Lindblom - Patrick - Voracek

Raffl - Filppula - Simmonds

Lehtera - Laughton - Read

Defense

Provorov - Gostisbehere

Sanheim - MacDonald

Manning - Gudas

Goalie

Elliott

(Mrazek)