Philadelphia Flyers (13-16-2--28pts)
New York Rangers (15-13-3--33pts)
TV: CSN - RADIO: 97.5 The Fanatic
1. HOME SWEET HOME
The Flyers return home for a five-game homestand tonight through Apr. 3… The Flyers own a 9-4-1 record on home ice and have won their last two games at home, and four of their last five games… The Flyers own the League's fourth best power play at home, operating at 26.8 percent (15-for-56)… The Flyers penalty kill has also killed off 25 of the last 26 times they have been shorthanded over a span of their last seven home games… Following tonight's game, the Flyers have nine games remaining at home.
2. SEASON SERIES
Tonight is the fourth of five games in the season series, with the Rangers leading the series, 2-1-0, and winning the last meeting, 4-2 in New York… This is the second meeting at home against the Rangers with the Flyers winning the first meeting, 2-1 on Jan. 24… Wayne Simmonds has five points (2g-3a) in the season series so far, while Ryan Callahan leads the Rangers with three goals and four points in the series… Seven of the 12 goals scored in the series have come on the power play with the Flyers scoring four of their five goals on the man-advantage (4-for-12) and the Rangers going 3-for-10.
3. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER
The Flyers have had two of their last three games decided past regulation, while the Rangers have had two of their last four games decided past regulation… Both teams are 2-2-1 in their last five games… The Flyers are fifth in the league in hits (891), while the Rangers rank fourth in the NHL in hits (942)… Rangers' Head Coach John Tortorella is one win shy of earning his 400th career win… Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist has held opponents to three goals or fewer in each of his last 12 games, going 6-5-1 with a 1.98 GAA & .928 save percentage in that span…
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Claude Giroux - (C) #28
Giroux comes into tonight's game with goals in two straight games and at least a point in four of his last five games, recording three goals and an assist… He has nine points (3g-6a) in his last eight games at home… Giroux has one assist in three games of the season series and overall he has 18 assists and 24 points in 26 games against the Rangers.
5. Player to watch RANGERS: Derek Stepan - (C) #21
The 22-year-old in his third season in the NHL has recorded at least a point in six of his last eight games, posting four goals and six points in that span… He also has 12 points (6g-6a) in his last 13 games… Stepan is second on the team in scoring with 21 points, while being tied for second in goals (9), assists (12) and tied for the team lead in plus-minus (+9)… Against the Flyers, Stepan has two assists in the three games so far this season and overall, he has 13 points (4g-9a) in 15 games.
"My personal message to the guys is 'It's still in our hands and we can control our destiny'. This week coming up is huge for us."
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have been unable to find their forms of 2011-12 during this lockout-shortened season, as each is struggling to make the playoffs.
What hasn't changed is both teams' fortunes in the head-to-head series, and the Rangers will go for their 11th victory in 12 meetings as the clubs open crucial stretches Tuesday night.
The Rangers (15-13-3) have been unable to develop any consistency a season after reaching the Eastern Conference finals, falling 3-2 in a shootout to Washington on Sunday to give them a 2-4-1 mark in the last seven. New York did manage to move into the final postseason spot in the East, though coach John Tortorella was hardly encouraged.
"I'm not even thinking about the playoffs," he said. "I'm thinking about points."
The Rangers begin a three-game road trip Tuesday and follow the contest with games against fellow East playoff contenders Ottawa on Thursday and Montreal on Saturday.
"We have to focus on each game as a playoff game," said New York's Henrik Lundqvist, who has lost six of his last eight starts. "There's no other way for us to do this now. We're in a really tough spot, and we need everybody playing their best hockey going down the stretch here."
New York has kept doing that against Philadelphia this season, winning two of three matchups. The Rangers have outscored the Flyers 41-18 in taking 10 of 11 from their Atlantic Division rivals.
New York took the most recent meeting 4-2 on March 5, which started a 2-5-1 stretch for Philadelphia.
The Flyers finished with the third-most points in the East last season but have a tough road ahead just to make the postseason for the fourth straight year.
Philadelphia (13-16-2) is in 13th place, five points behind New York. The Flyers fell 2-1 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"We obviously went there for two points, but we've got a lot of hockey left this week," said forward Brayden Schenn, who hasn't recorded a point in his last eight games. "We've got another tough test coming up Tuesday."
This contest opens a five-game homestand for the Flyers, winners of four of five at Philadelphia.
"It's going to be huge for us," said captain Claude Giroux, who scored his 10th goal Sunday. "We've got to go one game at a time but we've got to find a way to win those five games to get a spot in the playoffs."
Philadelphia may have a good chance to jump out to an early lead Tuesday, as Rangers opponents have scored the first goal in five of the last six games.
"Maybe we talk too much about it," said Lundqvist, who has posted a 1.63 goals-against average in his last 11 starts versus Philadelphia. "We focus so much on getting a good start, and when that doesn't happen maybe we over-think it. Maybe we should talk less about it and just go out and play."
The Flyers' Ilya Bryzgalov has gone 1-7-0 with a 3.70 GAA in his last eight starts against New York.
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