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Rangers want to stick with winning formula

by Mike G. Morreale

PHILADELPHIA -- The New York Rangers will look to duplicate their blueprint for success against the rival Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS, MSG, CSN-PH).

The Rangers hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

In a 4-1 victory against the Flyers in Game 3 on Tuesday, the Rangers scored two early goals to take some of the adrenaline and emotion out of the crowd, denied their opponent lanes to shoot the puck, and consistently played with patience.

The plan worked to perfection and the Rangers won for the 15th time against the Flyers in the past 20 regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoff games, dating to March 6, 2011. The Rangers have allowed two or fewer goals in 16 of those games and scored at least four 10 times.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault kept the players who will dress for Game 4 off the ice Friday morning. Center Chris Kreider, who has missed the past 12 games after sustaining a hand injury March 21, was one of the players skating Friday at Wells Fargo Center. He remains out indefinitely.

"Momentum is a big part of games and of the playoffs," Vigneault told reporters after practice  Thursday at Madison Square Garden. "When you have it, you want to keep it. And when you don't have it, you want to make sure those next couple shifts are good ones."

The Rangers denied the Flyers on five power-play opportunities and finished with 28 blocked shots, including nine blocks during those power plays.

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who on Friday will move into a three-way tie with Steve Vickers and Adam Graves for ninth on the franchise's all-time list for playoff games (68), led the way with five blocked shots. Girardi and defensemen Kevin Klein and Marc Staal lead the Rangers with nine blocks apiece in three games.

Girardi and defense partner Ryan McDonagh have done an admirable job against Philadelphia's top line of captain Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek. Giroux, who averaged 2.71 shots in 82 regular-season games, has been credited with two shots through three games.

The defense pair of Staal and Anton Stralman also has played a significant role in limiting quality scoring chances by the Flyers.

Here are the projected lineups:


Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Daniel Carcillo

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Jesper Fast, Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Ryan Haggerty, J.T. Miller

Injured: Chris Kreider (hand)


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Vincent Lecavalier - Wayne Simmonds

Jason Akeson - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Michael Raffl - Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Calvin Heeter, Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson, Tye McGinn, Jay Rosehill

Injured: Steve Downie (upper body)

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