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At the Rink: Rangers at Flyers

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers don't have a time machine so their focus has to be on the present, starting with a visit from the New York Rangers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, City).

That means back-to-back losses against the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs, teams behind them in the standings, have to be ignored.

"They're over with," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said. "It's done. There's nothing you can do about it now. Can't go back in a time machine and replay those games. We'd like to, but you can't do it. Have to focus on the task at hand, and that's the New York Rangers."

The Flyers have lost four straight to the Rangers, including three games in 10 days in November.

"They're a good team," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "One of the best teams in the League. You can tell that from the standings. … They play good defense with very good offensive players. That's probably the worst combination you can have to play against. They play a very tight-checking game and they are very good defensively. When you make a mistake they can make you pay."

The Rangers know the Flyers will be desperate to cut into the six points separating them from the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the Rangers, who have won four in a row, are just as desperate as they battle the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division; a win for the Rangers and a regulation loss by the Islanders would put the Rangers back in first place by points percentage.

"We're looking at the standings a little bit," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "Our focus is trying to play as consistently close to 60-minute hockey as we can. Putting a complete game together, playing the way we want to play defensively first and foremost. We know that's going to give us the best chance to win games, keeping the chances-against down. Good defense will lead to good offense, and that's got to be our mindset tonight."

Cam Talbot will be in goal for the Rangers for the fourth straight game, and 11th time in 12 games since Henrik Lundqvist sustained a vascular injury to his neck.

Talbot might have started this game if Lundqvist had been healthy; he has two shutouts in two starts against the Flyers this season, and in three career games against the Flyers he's 2-1-0 and has made 82 saves on 84 shots.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said there would be no changes from the lineup used in the 4-3 win Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.

The Flyers will have a few changes, among them goaltender Steve Mason making his first start since Feb. 8, when he injured his right knee in the second period. Mason made eight saves on nine shots in 32:24 of ice time in the Flyers' 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, and said that bit of game action has him feeling good for the start Saturday.

"It was nice to get game action under my belt," Mason said. "It's been a while. When you've been out of action as much as I've been you lose the pace of the game, which is hard to jump back into. It was nice to go into a situation where I can get a bit of minutes under my belt and get ready for the next game. … I feel good. The knee has been holding up really well. We'll look to continue to get better as the days go on."

Other changes for the Flyers are Vincent Lecavalier replacing Zac Rinaldo at right wing on the fourth line, and defenseman Luke Schenn replacing Andrew MacDonald.

The Flyers were disappointed to see defenseman Kimmo Timonen leave in a trade Friday with the Chicago Blackhawks but understand the situation facing the 39-year-old, who wants one more chance at winning the Stanley Cup before he retires after the season.

"It's great for Kimmo," Voracek said. "He's got a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup with Chicago. It's great for him because he's one of a kind. Probably one of the best teammates I've ever had. He totally deserves it."

Here are the projected lineups:

RANGERS

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Lee Stempniak

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Cam Talbot

Mackenzie Skapski

Scratched: Matt Hunwick

Injured: Henrik Lundqvist (neck), Jesper Fast (knee)

FLYERS

Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Ryan White - Brayden Schenn - R.J. Umberger

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vincent Lecavalier

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Braydon Coburn

Nicklas Grossmann - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Zac Rinaldo, Carlo Colaiacovo, Andrew MacDonald, Rob Zepp

Injured: None

Status report: Vigneault said Fast is close to returning; Saturday will be the 11th straight game he's missed. "I think [Fast] is real close, but I think he needs to have a normal practice with the team and that'll be tomorrow," Vigneault said. … Lecavalier had been a healthy scratch the previous four games, as had Luke Schenn. … Emery will be the backup after missing the previous two games because of a lower-body injury.

Who's hot: Hayes has two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak. … Del Zotto has two goals and four assists in his past seven games.

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