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THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT TONIGHT

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 3:11 PM
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT TONIGHT

PHILADELPHIA – Something hasn’t seemed right about this Flyers-Rangers first round series.

It has nothing to do with the Flyers facing elimination tonight, nor does it have to do with their struggles on offense – which has a lot to do with how well New York has played on defense.

No, it’s something else. Something that isn’t tangible, but yet is quite noticeable.

It’s almost as if the series has been played by card-carrying members of the mutual admiration society.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some plucky moments – because there have. It’s not to say there hasn’t been any not-safe-for-work verbal exchanges between both sides – because that’s just part of the fabric of playoff hockey.

It just seems – off, and maybe because it is.

Typically, Flyers-Rangers carries with it the stigma of deep-rooted animosity. Typically, a matchup between these clubs is hard, physical, and sometimes ruthless.

But this is a new era of this rivalry.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault is a bright hockey mind who focus on speed and technique. Craig Berube, for all that he was as a player, wants the Flyers to be a disciplined hockey team and worry about competing within the system he has in place and not outside of it.

As such, the powder keg explosion everyone has been anticipating in this series hasn’t really come to fruition.

That could change tonight.

We already heard from players and coaches alike that the Flyers want to be more aggressive tonight.

The word aggressive can have so many meanings, and it’s likely the Flyers will try to pursue every one of them.

“You definitely don't want to go to the penalty box,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “But we’ve got to do a better job of getting numbers in the offensive zone, being more aggressive, being more physical and winning more puck battles in that area.”

And the players were saying it too. Quietly, they feel like they’re hungry dogs being let off a leash.

“We don’t want to have a parade to the penalty box because it’s been a series that’s been called pretty tight and you don’t want to be ‘that guy,’” said Brayden Schenn. “But, I would expect it to be more physical tonight. We’re a physical team and we want to play that way in our rink. It’s why we play well here.”

The difference will be the Flyers understand their lot in this series. They recognize that it’s win or go home time. They grasp that concept and recognize that something in Game 6 has to be different than in the previous five games.

Zac Rinaldo, who felt like he didn’t have a finger on the pulse of the series a couple days ago, identified it as a reaction to the Rangers.

“They’re a quick team and they try and spread us out by having their forwards push out to the red line or even our blue line,” he said about the Rangers breakout. “It makes the forecheck so much harder for me because they move it up so quick that if I try to get in there and make a hit, I might either get there late – and draw a penalty – or end up behind the play and chase it to try and stop an odd-man rush.”

But both Rinaldo and Schenn indicated that the Flyers have a gameplan in place for Game 6 that they hope will change that.

“I can’t tell you how we’re going to do it,” Rinaldo said. “But we’re going to do it. I’ll get mine [hits] in tonight.”

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NOTES: Erik Gustafsson will replace Hal Gill in the lineup on defense subbing for the injured Nick Grossmann… The Rangers have lost an NHL record 11 consecutive playoff games when leading a series. The Flyers are hoping to stretch that to 12 games tonight… Berube played possum at the morning skate and in the quick line rushes had Gill take shifts with Mark Streit. He also reunited all four of his lines. With the knowledge that Gill is out and Gustafsson is in, might there be other changes to the line combinations that weren’t seen in practice? We’ll see tonight.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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