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Electric Atmosphere

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Voorhees, NJ – Just before the players are introduced at Madison Square Garden, the public address announcer welcomes everyone in attendance to the "World's Most Famous Arena" in a loud and booming voice.

While that is up for debate, the game on Tuesday night between the Flyers and Rangers certainly had a playoff-type atmosphere. It's no secret that the Philadelphia-New York rivalry is back now that the Rangers are once again a force to be dealt with in the NHL.

"It's a good preparation for us when the [playoff] season starts," said defenseman Denis Gauthier. "We're definitely looking forward to upping our tempo and getting our game together for the last seven games and get ready for Game One of a playoff series."

Ken Hitchcock pointed out that the Flyers have played well in New York, accumulating seven of a possible eight points at the Garden. Philadelphia won their other three games there earlier in the season before a 3-2 shootout loss on Tuesday.

"That's a pretty electric atmosphere, just like it is in the Wachovia Center. Knowing that you can play when the lights are turned pretty bright is a good feeling," said Hitchcock. "Our players like playing there and they like the atmosphere and we've performed very, very well there."

Despite the loss, Philadelphia still has a chance to catch New York for first place in the Atlantic Division. There is one more head-to-head game on April 15 at home.

"We want to catch them, but I think last night was a great effort," said Eric Desjardins. "We came out of this with a point, but they got two, but still it's still possible for us to catch them.

"For us, it's just a matter of playing well going into the playoffs. If we finish first in the division, great, but if we don't we're going to have to play one of those good teams anyway."

Richards Stands Up for Umberger

Flyers rookie center Mike Richards has been tabbed as a leader for quite awhile, and has even been called a future captain of the Flyers somewhere down the line. On Tuesday night, he gave an example of why.

New York's Ryan Hollweg, whose dirty check from behind on R.J. Umberger in a game on March 22 resulted in a major penalty, three-game suspension as well as several stitches for Umberger, dropped the gloves with Richards early in Tuesday's game.

"That's what a leader does. He's one of those guys who has been a leader his whole life and has been captains of a number of teams," said Hitchcock. "What he did does not surprise any of us. I'm sure he thought about that for a week and then went and did it. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. That was his friend that got hit and his teammate and he was upset by it, so he wanted to send a message."

Gauthier's Greatest Hits

Gauthier laid one of the hits of the season on New York's Martin Straka in the first period of Tuesday's game. He was asked to describe it on Wednesday after a short practice.

"They just came down the boards on a dump and Straka was the first on the puck," said Gauthier. "He tried to reverse it to his partner and I think my partner was on him. Straka turned back to see where the puck was to see if his partner got it and he never saw me coming because he was looking behind him. I guess I just surprised him and I gave him a good shoulder."

As far as where it ranks in his personal best?

"I'd say it's in the Top 10," he said.
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