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Rangers hope to keep offense going in Philly

by Matthew Mankiewich
RANGERS (24-19-7) at FLYERS (24-21-3)

Last 10: New York 5-2-3, Philadelphia 6-3-1.

Season Series: Only the third meeting of six, the first two split, but the last meeting on Dec. 30 represented a low point for the Rangers, a 6-0 rout by the Flyers in which Simon Gagne had a natural hat trick. That started a nine-game stretch in which the Blueshirts averaged a mere 1.78 goals per game, but went 4-2-3 thanks to Henrik Lundqvist.

Big Story: It's another meeting between two traditional rivals on each other's heels in the super-tight Eastern Conference; the Flyers one point behind the Islanders for the final eighth spot, while the Rangers are four points ahead in sixth.

Team Scope:

Rangers: It's the Rangers doing the routing recently, blitzing the Lightning 8-2 on Monday after crushing the Canadiens 6-2 on Saturday. All this comes after a three-game scoring drought in which the Rangers went 172 minutes without lighting the lamp.

What's just as important is how many players have been partaking in the offensive feast. Marian Gaborik had a career-high four assists in the Tampa Bay game and 16 of 18 Ranger skaters recorded at least one point, tying a franchise record set on Feb. 17, 1985, in a 9-3 win over the Islanders.

"It was one of those nights where everything was going in," said Gaborik. "We deserved it. We haven't been scoring that many goals lately."

Flyers: Last place in the Atlantic Division means little when you're right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase, thanks to a 9-3-1 record in the last 13 games.

And a solid 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets to start a six-game homestand can cure a multitude of ills, including losses to the Maple Leafs and Capitals.

"Winning cures all that ails you. When you're losing, there are always question marks, always a lot of strife sometimes and misery," Chris Pronger told the Philadelphia Daily News. "When you win, that goes away pretty quickly."

Who's Hot: Gaborik has a goal and six assists in the two blowouts after being kept off the board the previous four. Brandon Dubinsky, minus-4 the last time he faced Philly, has three goals and two assists in the last two games.

Jeff Carter has seven goals and eight assists over 12 games, including two goals and an assist in the win over Columbus.

Injury Report: Rangers forward Donald Brashear continues to deal with hamstring issues that have kept him out three games. ... Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent (back) has no timetable set for a return.

Stat Pack: Lundqvist is 6-1-2 with a 1.42 goals-against average and one shutout in his last nine starts since being pulled for allowing three goals on 11 shots against the Flyers. He has won seven of eight starts in Philadelphia, while the Rangers are 14-2-1 in their last 17 visits to Wachovia Center. Ray Emery is 5-1-0 with a 1.66 GAA and a shutout in seven games against the Rangers, but he hasn't started against them since a 32-save 3-2 win at Madison Square Garden on March 13, 2007, when he played for the Ottawa Senators.

Puck Drop: Any Rangers-Flyers game comes with its own built-in drama, but when both teams are playing some of their best hockey of the year, it just doesn't get much better.

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