Flyers, Rangers meet with both badly in need of a win
PLEASE NOTE: TODAY'S GAME WILL BE PLAYED AS SCHEDULED TODAY.
RANGERS (15-16-3) at FLYERS (15-16-2)
New York 2-6-2; Philadelphia 2-7-1
This is the first of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. Last season, the Rangers won four of six games, including two of three in Philadelphia and the final three in the season series. In their most recent meeting, the Rangers won 4-3 in Philadelphia, with Blair Betts
scoring the winning goal. Betts now plays with the Flyers.
Both teams have some unfortunate similarities -- neither has been winning much, both have been sliding down the standings and neither has been able to find the net with any kind of consistency. The five goals the Rangers scored Thursday marked the second time in their last 11 games they've scored more than two. The Flyers have scored more than two just twice in their last 12, most recently when they scored three last Monday in Boston.
Wade Redden wasn't happy to be scratched for Thursday's game against the Islanders, but coach John Tortorella said the veteran defenseman shouldn't expect anything to change anytime soon.
"Wade Redden hasn't played well enough to be in the lineup," Tortorella said. "I want to make sure you understand that. I'm not interested in making examples out of people. A coach's responsibility is to try to put the best lineup out on the ice, and we felt we did that last night. For 25 or 30 games we've tried to stay with him, tried to bring confidence in with him, and go about it that way; it hasn't worked. … We'll go through some bumps in the road with kids, but not with underachieving veterans. … We'll go that way instead of continuing to put people on the ice that haven't done their job."
For a team expected to be a Stanley Cup contender, they shouldn't be feeling good for losing in a shootout. But with the way the last few weeks have been going in Philadelphia, one point from Thursday's 4-3 shootout defeat to the Penguins is better than none.
"Getting a point in a tough game like this against a good opponent, you've got to take the positives," forward Scott Hartnell
told NHL.com. "You can look at the glass as half empty or half full. I think we're all positive people in here and we're trying to take positives from games even when they don't go so well. You've got to take a positive spin on this one. We played hard, we deserved two points instead of one, but we'll take the one all things considered the last few weeks."
Who's Hot --
Rangers forward Ryan Callahan has 4 goals and 7 points in his last four games, including a 2-goal, 2-assist game Thursday against the Islanders. The 4-point game was a career-best. Flyers defenseman Matt Carle
has assists in four straight. His 17 assists this season is tied for sixth among NHL defensemen, and four fewer than he had in 76 games last season.
Injury Report --
The Flyers are expected to have Simon Gagne in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 25. Gagne has missed nearly two months following hernia surgery. Teammate Darroll Powe
, out since Nov. 21 with a shoulder injury, is close to returning.
The Rangers have a fully healthy lineup.
Stat Pack --
Marian Gaborik leads the League with 24 goals and is second with 45 points, but he has just 1 goal in eight career games against the Flyers. Gaborik hasn't played against the Flyers since Dec. 15, 2007, and he hasn't played a game in Philadelphia since Dec. 10, 2005.
Puck Drop --
Tortorella said he'll keep the same lineup Saturday in Philadelphia that he used Thursday against the Islanders, meaning Redden and Ales Kotalik again will sit out. Tortorella said more veterans could join them if they don't pick up their play, and captain Chris Drury could be on the list. Drury played 12 minutes Wednesday against the Islanders, and 14:58 as the fourth-line center in Thursday's game.
"I'm not trying to threaten," Tortorella said. "It is what it is. We have tried to instill confidence in some of our veteran guys that need to take a huge part of this hockey club. I have not seen them grab a hold of it."