FLYERS (30-15-6) at RANGERS (32-12-5)
TV: CSN-Philadelphia, MSG
LAST 10: Philadelphia 5-3-2; New York 6-3-1
Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between these Atlantic Division rivals, and the first since New York escaped Citizens Bank Park with a 3-2 win in the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic. New York has won all three games this season, including two pre-Christmas matchups at Madison Square Garden
Big Story: As is usually the case when these heated rivals face off, this game will have an air of playoff hockey to it. This one perhaps even more so, with both fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. New The first-place Rangers are coming off a three-day breather. Philadelphia, three points off the pace, will be playing its fourth game in six days and the final of a weekend back-to-back -- the Flyers lost 6-4 at home to New Jersey on Saturday.
Flyers: Philadelphia will look to salvage something from this weekend double after kicking it off in the worst way. After a confidence-building 4-1 win against Nashville on Thursday, the Flyers put themselves in a 6-0 hole Saturday afternoon against New Jersey and never recovered. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who coach Peter Laviolette said "looks really sharp" after his win over the Preds, conceded a career-worst six goals on 23 shots in just 28:22 before being lifted. Philadelphia allowed three power-play goals and a shorthanded chance, all before the second intermission.
Even a dynamite third period in which they outscored the Devils 4-0 and outshot them 24-1 was only good enough to make the score look respectable.
"First two periods, I was embarrassed to be a Philadelphia Flyer," forward Scott Hartnell said. "We came out with no energy, no intensity."
Rangers: New York got off to a rocky restart after the All-Star break, falling in a shootout on Tuesday to the Devils to put them just one point ahead of Boston. But the Rangers and goalie Henrik Lundqvist rebounded just a day later in Buffalo, where they topped the Sabres, 1-0, in another shootout. Lundqvist, who had rested Tuesday after his appearance in the All-Star Game, secured his 11th win in 14 starts and his League-leading sixth shutout of the season.
"I think it was good for me to get an extra day [of rest]," he said. "Even though it wasn't a lot of hockey, it was a lot of people, a lot of media. It was nice to regroup."
New York has won three of four, and will look to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the League as they start a three-game homestand.
Who's Hot: While Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr are still producing at a generous pace, Wayne Simmonds is getting in on the act with three goals in two games. … Lundqvist's back-to-back shutouts against Winnipeg and Buffalo make the first time he's ever put up zeroes in consecutive games.
Injury Report: Philadelphia's James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere, both out with concussions, took part in Friday's morning skate, but there is still no timetable for either's return. Captain Chris Pronger (concussion) is out for the season. … Rangers defenseman Michael Sauer (concussion) and Steve Eminger (shoulder) are on injured reserve, though Eminger is just about ready to return.
Stat Pack: Lundqvist's numbers speak for themselves. In addition to shutouts, he leads the League in save percentage (.939) and is second in goals-against average (1.82). He is 3-0 this season against Philadelphia and 19-10 with a .910 save percentage for his career.
Puck Drop: When asked about Sunday's matchup and whether the two points mean more than in other games, Laviolette downplayed the damage a direct hit would inflict on Philadelphia's biggest rival.
"I don't know if it's that much of a difference," Laviolette said. "Certainly they've won the game and they've taken the points, so the points I think are important. The last few games we've played this team, I've liked the way this team has played but something's gotten away from us with the points. That's the nature of the beast here. Certainly, our objective is to go in there, play a strong hockey game and come out with a win."
|J. van Riemsdyk||37||11||11||22||-1||22||2||1|
|M. Del Zotto||50||7||19||26||+26||28||0||2|