GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (22-11-10-5) at New York Rangers (18-18-7-4).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Philadelphia Flyers has been devastated by injuries to their defense
lately. They shouldn't expect any sympathy from the New York Rangers in that
Both teams will be forced to use makeshift defensive units when they meet
Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Philadelphia entered Tuesday's 4-1 home loss to Montreal without injured
defensemen Eric Desjardins, Dennis Seidenberg and Marcus Ragnarsson. Desjardins
will miss at least two months with a broken right forearm, Seidenberg is out at
least three months with a broken left leg and Ragnarsson will be sidelined up
to two weeks with a sprained left rotator cuff.
Those injuries forced Philadelphia to trade right wing Justin Williams to
Carolina on Tuesday for defenseman Danny Markov, who played more than 25
minutes in his Flyers' debut.
Things got worse for the Flyers when another defenseman, Jim Vandermeer,
separated his right shoulder late in the first period.
"It's a tough time for us right now," Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock
said. "Regrouping is going to become important. I don't think we can lose
sight of the fact that we were checked hard today and we didn't respond the way
I would have liked."
The Rangers find themselves in a very similar situation after being swept by
Boston in a home-and-home series, including a 4-1 home loss Tuesday.
New York was without three regular defensemen and could be missing all three
Darius Kasparaitis is out 10 to 12 weeks with a knee injury and Greg de
Vries is expected to miss another two weeks with a sprained right knee. Tom
Poti, scratched Tuesday with back spasms, could return Thursday.
"Anytime you've got three of your regular defensemen out of your lineup
it's tough," Rangers captain Mark Messier said. "I don't think we can panic
at this point."
Without Kasparaitis, de Vries and Poti, rookie Lawrence Nycholat made his
NHL debut for the Rangers on Tuesday. New York also dressed Dale Purinton and
Joel Bouchard, who have played sparingly this season.
While the Flyers are battling New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic
Division, the Rangers are two points behind the New York Islanders for the
eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
New York is 0-2-2 in its last four games and 3-5-2-1 this month.