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Five things to watch when Rangers host Flyers

by Adam Kimelman

Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube said he doesn't try to reflect on what happened the last time the Flyers played the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

It was Game 7 of their 2014 Eastern Conference First Round series and the Flyers lost 2-1.

"I don't think about it anymore," Berube said. "I think once it was over it's really over with me. I think the way I look at it is we played good hockey at times but we didn't play very good hockey a lot of times during that series and it cost us. If we had been more consistent we could have beaten them. They're a very good team, not taking anything away from them. We gave them a good battle. In my mind we could play better."

He'll have a chance to see if he's right when the Flyers visit the Rangers in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

It will be the first time Philadelphia and New York have played since then, and each will be looking to straighten out its game.

The Flyers have lost two in a row and eight straight regular-season games at MSG. The Rangers have one win in their past six games.

"We're a .500 hockey team right now," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "And .500 isn't going to get you to the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs."

Here are five things to watch in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game:

1. How will Talbot respond?

Goalie Cam Talbot will start for the Rangers Wednesday after Henrik Lundqvist started the previous five games. It will be Talbot's second game against the Flyers. On Oct. 24 of last season Talbot allowed two goals on 27 shots in a 2-1 Flyers victory. His other action against Philadelphia was the third period of Game 6 of the playoff series last season when he stopped five shots.

After winning 12 games last season, Talbot is 0-2-1 with a 3.48 goals-against average and .880 save percentage in four games this season. It will be Talbot's first game since allowing five goals on 31 shots Nov. 8 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2. Can Flyers survive without Giroux?

Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux will miss the game because of a lower-body injury sustained during practice Monday.

In Giroux's absence, Brayden Schenn will slide from left wing into Giroux's spot at center on the top line, and R.J. Umberger moves to Schenn's spot at left wing on the top line. Jakub Voracek, who is tied with Sidney Crosby for the League scoring lead with 26 points, remains at right wing.

Umberger has one goal in 16 games but hasn't scored in nine straight. Umberger and Voracek were linemates when they were teammates with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Umberger hopes they can rediscover that chemistry.

"I played about three years with Jake in Columbus and had a lot of success with him," Umberger said. "I know it's been a lot of time since then but hopefully it'll feel the same."

The Flyers recalled center Scott Laughton from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Tuesday night. They loaned Blair Jones to Lehigh Valley.

3. Can the Flyers kill penalties?

7-7-2 (6th, Metropolitan) 2014-15 Record 7-7-4 (4th, Metropolitan)
1828-1261-457-106 All-Time Record 2613-2520-808-101
118-114-37-7 Head-to-Head Regular-Season Record 121-111-37-7
0-1-0 Streak vs. Opponent 1-0-0
0-8-0 @ New York Home/Road Streak vs. Opponent 8-0-0 vs. Flyers
2 Stanley Cup Championships 4
10 Hockey Hall of Fame Members 50
Bob Clarke Most Famous Alumnus Mark Messier
4 Hart Trophy Winners 4
37 Postseason Appearances 56
John Vanbiesbrouck (1998-2000) Best Player in Common John Vanbiesbrouck (1981-93)

In its first 14 games, Philadelphia allowed nine power-play goals on 45 times shorthanded. But in the past two games, the Flyers allowed a total of six power-play goals in seven times shorthanded. They allowed three power-play goals on four attempts in a 4-3 home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday after they allowed one power-play goal at home in their first seven games at Wells Fargo Center. The next night they allowed three power-play goals on three penalty kills in a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's just little things the last two games," Berube said, according to "Clearing pucks. We win faceoffs and don't clear pucks. Break a play up and don't clear a puck. Just overall not aggressive enough."

The Flyers have been missing two key penalty-killers, defensemen Luke Schenn and Andrew MacDonald, but Berube said it's not personnel.

"When the forwards are pressing at the points and they've got to make a play they don't want to make, our defense has to read that and be able to jump on that pass," Berube said. "Just below the goal line we're not aggressive enough. We've got to get skating. Move our feet, get on people, have heavy sticks. Penalty-killing is a commitment. You've got to block shots and do all the little things desperately at times, off a faceoff or break a play up. Clear the puck down 200 feet."

4. How angry are the Rangers?

New York's 5-1 loss Monday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, its third straight defeat, left the players in an angry mood.

"You know you're not going to win every game," forward Martin St. Louis said. "You can live with yourself if you played the right way, did some good things. I don't know how we can live with that one. That was a tough one. Until we lace them up and play another game, I think it's going to sit with us a little bit."

5. Which leading scorer will step up?

The game will feature two of the top offensive producers this season. Rangers forward Rick Nash is tied for second in the NHL with 12 goals but has one goal in his past five games. He has seven goals in 15 games against the Flyers.

Voracek has at least one point in a career-best 10 games. He has five goals and 19 points during his streak.


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