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Preview: Flyers welcome the Rangers to South Philly with just nine games remaining

This will be the final Rangers-Flyers game of the season.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers will play host to the New York Rangers tonight for the final 2021-22 meeting between these two division rivals.

Both teams are on the second leg of back-to-backs, having each played an NHL game last night, as well. The Rangers lost a tough game to the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes and the Flyers got absolutely shellacked by Justin Schultz and the Washington Capitals.

Because of last night’s game, the Flyers did not practice today, meaning some lineup decisions may be a game-time decision. Last night, both Cam Atkinson and Carter Hart left the game with injuries and did not return.

At this point, the Flyers are already eliminated from the playoffs, while the Rangers have already clinched. Theoretically, it’s still possible that the Pittsburgh Penguins catch the Rangers in the standings and lose home-ice advantage in their first round matchup together, but it seems unlikely. It’s also still possible for the Rangers to catch the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Metro Division, but that will also be a difficult task for them. So, they’ve got some things to play for, but not much.

The Flyers, similarly, are just playing these games because they’re contractually obligated to do so. Flyers brass have used it as an opportunity to experiment some with lineup changes (Joel Farabee at center, Cam York on the right side) and some prospects (Ronnie Attard, Noah Cates, last night’s addition of Bobby Brink).

Go hockey.

Projected Flyers lines

Joel Farabee—Kevin Hayes—Cam Atkinson?
Travis Konecny—Scott Laughton—Bobby Brink
James van Riemsdyk—Morgan Frost—Owen Tippett
Noah Cates—Nate Thompson—Oskar Lindblom

Ivan Provorov—Cam York
Travis Sanheim—Rasmus Ristolainen
Kevin Connauton—Ronnie Attard

Martin Jones
(Carter Hart)

Projected Rangers lines

Chris Kreider—Mika Zibanejad—Frank Vatrano
Artemi Panarin—Dylan Strome—Andrew Copp
Alexis Lafrenière—Barcley Goodrow—Kaapo Kakko
Dryden Hunt—Kevin Rooney—Ryan Reaves

Ryan Lindgren—Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller—Jacob Trouba
Justin Braun—Braden Schneider

Alexandar Georgiev
(Igor Shesterkin)

Keep an eye on:

  • Robert Brink, who made his debut last night, notching his first career assist on one of the two goals the Flyers scored last night, a seeing-eye puck on the power play credited to James van Riemsdyk.
  • Artemi Panarin, who has 33 points in his last 22 games. He’s only been held scoreless in 21 of his 69 games this season despite a career-low scoring rate.
  • Travis Sanheim, whose numbers in last night’s seven-goal loss to the Capitals were the worst on the team: 10 even strength shot attempts for and 25 against and 4 even strength shots and 11 against. He did manage to escape with no Capitals goals scored while he was on the ice, though, which was no small feat in a game where they scored nine. Sanheim has been the Flyers’ best defenseman this season and possibly the only Flyers skater to have a better season than they had last year. Hopefully he’ll bounce back tonight against New York.
  • K’Andre Miller, who has not scored at a super-high rate this season for the Rangers, but is having a pretty nice sophomore year. He’s got the best shot attempt ratio at 5-on-5 among Ranger defensemen with 1171 CF and 1169 CA and he’s got points in consecutive games.
  • Joel Farabee’s temper, which got him into some trouble in the third period last night. With Sean Couturier out and Claude Giroux living his best life at a point-per-game rate in Florida, Farabee might just be the most talented player on this Flyers roster and last night we saw some of his frustration boil over. Hey, as long as its not heinous or with intent to injure, I don’t mind a little boiling over. My favorite tennis player was John McEnroe, after all.
  • Your television channel, because this game is on TNT. Hopefully we can expect some drama. Period.

Stray stats:

  • The Flyers are 136-128-37-10 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Rangers, including 5-5-1 this year and last.
  • After their win over the Blue Jackets last week, the 2021-22 Flyers officially surpassed the 2006-07 team in standings points, netting their 56th and 57th. Next up, they can pass last year’s 58-point team that only played in 56 games and the 58-point team from 1969-70 that only played in 76 games. This team is currently the third-worst Flyers team by points percentage, only ahead of 2006-07 and 1969-70. If they lose out the last nine games of the season, their points percentage will best the franchise-worst by .005 points.
  • If Cam Atkinson cannot go tonight, that will leave James van Riemsdyk as the only player to play in every Flyers game so far this season.
  • Last time the Flyers played the Rangers, I noted some of the interesting milestones we’d see if Chris Kreider reached 50 goals on the season. Well, he scored his 50th last night against the Hurricanes. No American-born player had scored 50 goals in a season since John LeClair did it for the Flyers in 1997-98 until Auston Matthews did it this season, meaning the 24-year gap was followed up by a few-week gap. Kreider is the 4th Ranger, the 11th American-born player, and the 13th played over 30 to score 50 goals. The Rangers’ franchise record for goals in a single season is 54, a mark that is certainly within reach for Kreider with 8 games left in the season.
  • Joel Farabee fell just one minute short of his career-high for penalty minutes in a game with his 14 in last night’s game, though he did set a career-high for penalties, considering the 15 minutes he was dinged for in a game against the Winnipeg Jets in his rookie season all came on one play and two separate penalty calls—a hit on Mathieu Perreault that earned him a five-minute interference and a ten-minute misconduct plus a three-game suspension—while last night’s hat trick of penalties was technically a hook and then a cross-check and then a misconduct.
  • While Jonathan Huberdeau has already officially broken the record for most assists in a season by a left winger, both Artemi Panarin and Johnny Gaudreau could also surpass the old mark this season, as well. Joe Juneau’s 70 assists in 1992-93 for the Boston Bruins was the old mark, while Panarin and Gaudreau each currently have 67 with a fistful of games left to play. Huberdeau currently has 77 assists.