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Flyers seek better defensive effort, split in New York

by Tal Pinchevsky


(New York leads best-of-7 series, 1-0)


Big story: Despite being outshot 36-15 and winning one offensive-zone faceoff in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers are seeing some positives heading into Game 2 at Madison Square Garden.

The Flyers played New York close for much of Game 1 and enjoyed an extra day of practice to regroup and correct their mistakes from a 4-1 series-opening loss.

"I think we didn't play the way we wanted in Game 1. I think defensively we can be better," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said after practice Saturday. "That's how we're going to get more chances offensively. We just need to tighten up."

Team Scope:

Flyers: Goaltender Ray Emery made 32 saves in Game 1, but the hope heading into Game 2 was that Steve Mason would be able to return from an upper-body injury sustained in a collision with Jayson Megna of the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 12. However, after participating in a full practice on Saturday at MSG, Mason announced he would not be dressing for Game 2.

It will be the third straight game Mason has missed with the injury. Rookie Calvin Heeter will back up Emery in Game 2, as he did in the opener.

"I think we're doing everything that we can to make sure we're treating it the proper way. As much as it's frustrating, I think everyone understands it's going to be a process," said Mason, who hopes to be back for Game 3 on Tuesday. "I'm going to make that my goal and make sure I get as much rest as possible to make sure that when I do get back in, I'm 100 percent and ready to help the team rather than be a liability out there."

Following practice, coach Craig Berube said he wouldn't rule out any lineup changes but hadn't made a final decision yet.

Rangers: New York wasn't looking to make too many changes in the days following its big Game 1 win. But the Rangers are expecting a tougher turnout from the Flyers' top three scorers. Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds were held pointless and combined for two shots (by Simmonds) in Game 1.

"This is a new season right now and the series is 1-0. I expect that they are going to be better tomorrow and I expect that we're going to be better tomorrow," coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Saturday. "Tomorrow is going to be another typical Flyer-Ranger game. It's going to be hard-fought from start to finish. It should be really good for the fans and the players."

Vigneault wouldn't reveal any lineup changes for Game 2, but it's expected he'll stick with a winning formula. That could mean New York's fourth line of Dominic Moore, Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett again will see plenty of Philadelphia's top trio of Giroux, Voracek and Scott Hartnell.

Who's hot: Hartnell has four assists in his past five games for the Flyers. Giroux has seven points in his past five games. … Rangers center Brad Richards has three power-play goals and five points in his past four games. Forward Martin St. Louis has six assists during a three-game point streak.

Injury report: Philadelphia is without Mason (upper body) and forward Steve Downie (upper body). … New York forward Chris Kreider (hand) is out indefinitely.

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