One team went forward on a memorable run to the Stanley Cup Final, and the other went home.
Last season the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers met on the final day of the regular season, and Philadelphia's shootout win pushed the Flyers into the playoffs and kept the Rangers out. These two Atlantic Division rivals will meet again Sunday, March 6, at Madison Square Garden, and it will be the NBC Sports' NHL "Game of the Week," the League and NBC Sports announced Thursday.
The Flyers earned the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference last spring and defeated New Jersey, Boston and Montreal en route to a date with Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final. Philadelphia ended two wins shy of claiming the Cup, but the Flyers are atop the East this season and pushing the Vancouver Canucks for the best record in hockey.
Philadelphia already boasted one of the deepest collections of forwards in the League before GM Paul Holmgren bolstered his roster with the addition of Kris Versteeg from Toronto this week.
"We think he’s a guy that over the last few years, particularly in Chicago, has really blossomed into a good forward and we think he’s going to be a really good addition to our team," Holmgren told reporters.
The Flyers have won five of their last games to increase their lead in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference to five points on Pittsburgh. Danny Briere leads the Flyers with 28 goals, while he, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux all have at least 49 points. The addition of Versteeg gives the team nine players with at least 13 goals.
The Rangers snapped a six-game winless streak with a 5-3 victory against the Penguins on Sunday and entered Thursday's action seventh in the East. Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle are tied for the team lead with 19 goals, while Derek Stepan has been one of the top rookies in the conference with 15 goals and 32 points.
After missing several key forwards, the Rangers are close to full health and not only will be trying to hold off Atlanta, Carolina and Buffalo to keep their spot in the top eight, but chase down Pittsburgh and Montreal.
"It’s definitely good to stop the bleeding," Rangers forward Ryan Callahan told reporters. "We put ourselves in a little bit of a bind standings-wise. With this one, we can start looking at teams ahead of us, not the teams behind us."
Hockey fans in the United States will be able to watch the game live on NHL.com and NBCSports.com.