Flyers get Classic tune-up against Rangers
FLYERS (18-18-2) at RANGERS (18-16-4)
Philadelphia 4-5-1; New York 4-3-3
This is the second of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Rangers took the opener in Philadelphia, 2-1, behind a 36-save effort by Henrik Lundqvist.
It's a big divisional game with both teams just outside of the top eight in the East, and it's also Philadelphia's last game before the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic in Boston on New Year's Day.
Scuffling all season, the team has fired its coach and lost its top two goaltenders (Ray Emery and Brian Boucher
). Enter Michael Leighton
, who was picked up on waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. All he's done is won his first three starts with the Flyers, and he could be going for his -- and the team's -- fourth straight win tonight.
"I haven't made that decision," Laviolette said when asked if Leighton would face the Rangers. "But I will say Leights has played very well. He's given us an opportunity to win every game and he's been steady in the net, steady in his performance. He certainly earns the right to go back in there."
Leighton has allowed just 6 goals in his three starts.
Just when it looked like things were starting to get turned around for the Blueshirts, they get beat in overtime at home by the New York Islanders on Saturday, then find out second-leading scorer Vinny Prospal could be out for as many as three weeks with a knee injury.
Tonight's contest kicks off a three-games-in-four-days stretch for the Rangers, which means Lundqvist could get his first day off in more than a month. He last sat out a game Nov. 28, and has started 19 of the Rangers' past 20 games.
If Lundqvist does get a game off during this stretch, rookie Chad Johnson will likely be the one who gets the chance to play. It would be Johnson's first minutes in the NHL.
Flyers captain Mike Richards
has 3 goals and 1 assists during his team's current three-game winning streak. For the Rangers, Brandon Dubinsky has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last three games, and he'll be asked to keep up that production with Prospal out of the lineup.
Emery (abdomen) is out for the Flyers until mid-January, blueliner Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (knee) is on injured reserve and defenseman Ryan Parent (back) could return tonight. Prospal (knee) is the Rangers' only major injury.
The Rangers have allowed four shorthanded goals this season, including three in eight games.
The Canadian Olympic team will be announced Wednesday morning. Chris Pronger
and Richards are expected to land spots, while Jeff Carter
and Simon Gagne are other possibilities. The Rangers lack any candidates to be named to Steve Yzerman's team.