RANGERS (6-4-1) at FLYERS (7-4-1)
TV -- RIS, MSG (HD), CSN-PH (HD)
Last 10 --
New York 5-4-1; Philadelphia 6-4-0
Season series --
The last meeting between the Atlantic Division rivals still is talked about -- a 3-2 shootout victory by the Flyers in Philadelphia on the final day of the 2009-10 season. The victory enabled the Flyers to qualify for the playoffs as the seventh seed and, ultimately, represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final.
"(The shootout win) was pretty stressful, probably for both clubs," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "You're dragging a whole year on that last game. It was different than a Game 7 or something that happened in the playoffs since there was so much weight on that game. The objective of the regular season is to get into the playoffs, get as high as you can in the standings and secure home ice, but to carry that much into the final game and take it to a shootout was tough."
Big story --
It should be a pretty emotional start considering how the teams concluded the 2009-10 season. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
(5-3-1, 2.67 GAA, .923 save percentage), who was OK after taking a shot to the right side of his neck in practice Wednesday, likely will get the nod. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was mum on his starter during a conference call Wednesday morning. Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky
, who has started and won the last four games for the Flyers, has been nothing short of fantastic in the absence of Michael Leighton
(back surgery) in his initial season in North America. Bobrovsky, who played in Russia last season, is 6-2-0 with a 2.39 GAA and .918 save percentage.
The Rangers scored a 3-2 victory against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Monday at Madison Square Garden behind a strong effort from goalie Henrik Lundqvist
(33 saves). Left wing Brandon Dubinsky
scored twice and now leads the team with 7 goals through 11 games. Both goals were assisted by linemates Artem Anisimov
and Ryan Callahan
, who has a seven-game point streak.
Despite the absence of the sniper Danny Briere
, who was issued a three-game suspension by the League on Monday, the Flyers were able to extend their season-long winning streak to four games following a 3-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Scott Hartnell
scored a pair of goals, the 18th multiple-goal game in regular-season play of his career (10 with Nashville, eight with Philadelphia), all of which were victories. Bobrovsky has a 2.00 goals-against average and .934 save percentage during the Flyers' win streak.
Who's hot --
Flyers captain Mike Richards (4 assists) and forward Claude Giroux
(4 goals, 7 points) are both riding four-game point-scoring streaks. Richards has points in five of his last six games and Giroux has points in six of his last seven and eight of his last 10.
Injury report --
For the Flyers, defensemen Andrej Meszaros
(slight concussion) and forward Andreas Nodl
(upper body) are day-to-day, while Leighton continues to recover from back surgery. Briere will sit out game No. 2 of his suspension Thursday. … The Rangers continue to have to make due without forwards Chris Drury (broken index finger), Marian Gaborik
(separated left shoulder) and Vinny Prospal (right knee).
Stat pack --
The Rangers totaled 35 hits and 33 blocked shots in their victory against the Blackhawks on Monday. Steve Eminger
had a game-high six hits and Callahan and Dan Girardi
topped the charts with six blocked shots. The Blueshirts lead the League in hits (327) and blocked shots (223), and Girardi is tied for the NHL lead with 41 blocks.
Puck drop --
At some point Thursday night, former Philadelphia Flyers
forward and current broadcaster Bill Clement will be sworn in as an American citizen at the Wells Fargo Center.
"Yeah, I'll pledge allegiance to the flag," Clement told NHL.com. "It's going to be very meaningful to become a U.S. citizen in front of the fans and, on top of that, witness a great hockey game between two rivals."
Clement was born in Buckingham, Que., but his hometown is Thurso, a French-speaking city located along the Ottawa River. He grew up two blocks from Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur and played hockey with him as a kid.
"There are streets named after us in our hometown, Bill Clement Street and Guy Lafleur Street, so I'm hoping that the news in the change in citizenship doesn't mean I'll have to tear down the street sign," Clement said.