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Rangers battle Flyers for positioning in East

by Dave Lozo

FLYERS (11-11-1) at RANGERS (10-8-2)


Last 10: Philadelphia 6-4-0; New York 5-3-2

Season series: This is the third of five meetings. The Flyers and Rangers have split the first two meetings.

Big story: It's not your typical border battle with about 100 miles separating the teams, but the Flyers are on the good side of the playoff line in eighth place while the Rangers sit in ninth. Yes, the Rangers have three games in hand, but if the Flyers can grab two points, they'll move above .500 for the first time this season.

Team Scope:

Flyers: After stumbling to a 6-9-1 start, the Flyers are 5-2-0 in their past seven games. They are coming off two straight victories and will have a rare two-day break before facing the Rangers. That's been the case entering just three of their 23 games this season.

"I thought the guys played hard today, we had lots of chances to score," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said after his team's 2-1 home win vs. Ottawa on Saturday. "There are some things I'd like to tighten up defensively, but overall, the walkaway, we said before the game just because of their goaltending and the way they play defense that you know we have to get comfortable winning a 1-nothing game or a 2-1 game, you know that's what it came down to. The effort I thought was good, it was there, so it was a big win."

Rangers: It's becoming pretty clear how important Rick Nash is to the Rangers. He missed four games this season with an undisclosed injury, and the Rangers went 0-3-1 without him. With Nash in the lineup, like he was Sunday when he had a goal, an assist and a shootout goal in a 3-2 win vs. the Sabres, the Rangers are 10-5-1.

"It's incredible," McDonagh said of Nash. "He pulls moves off not a lot of people can. He uses his body so well, it kind of seems like a nothing play, then all of a sudden he explodes to the middle of the zone, and it's just chaos."

Who's hot: Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has stopped 56 of 58 shots over his past two games, both victories. … Nash has two goals and two assists in his past two games.

Injury report: Flyers forward Matt Read (abdomen) was expected to be out six weeks, but he skated Monday in a regular jersey. He's not likely to return Tuesday but could be back by the weekend. Out for the Flyers are forwards Tye McGinn (broken orbital), Jody Shelley (hip) and defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder). … The Rangers' only lingering injury is Arron Asham with back spasms.

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