Big story -- This is it, the big one. Both teams have 86 points, so the winner of this game goes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the loser goes home. The Flyers can finish seventh with a win or ninth with the loss. The Rangers get eighth place if they win -- and a early summer vacation if they don't.
Rangers -- The Rangers were left for dead three weeks ago after a 2-1 loss at Boston on March 21. But they destroyed the New York Islanders 5-0 three nights later and have been on a roll since then, going 7-1-1 in their last nine games. Waiver-wire pickup Erik Christensen, obtained from Anaheim on Dec. 2, has made a big difference with 8 goals and 18 assists in 48 games. He's skating on the top line with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik, the free-agent signee who leads the Rangers with 42 goals. Lundqvist is 35-27-9 this season, three fewer wins than a year ago, but his 2.41 goals-against average .919 save percentage are slightly better. In comparing goalies, Lundqvist gets the nod over Philadelphia's Brian Boucher.
Flyers -- The Flyers have had three seasons: They went 13-11-1, mostly with Emery in net, before coach John Stevens got fired. Then they went 23-18-3 with mostly Michael Leighton and some Emery (just past midseason) in goal before finishing 4-6-2 with Brian Boucher in net after Leighton suffered a high-ankle sprain on March 21. Leighton was 17-9-2. Veteran Sebastien Caron will be Boucher's backup Sunday but is ineligible for the playoffs.
The Flyers have had a good defense but a lot of forwards have had disappointing seasons and young players James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux (until recently) and Darroll Powe have faded in the second half. Watching Jeff Carter be the Flyers' best forward Friday night after a three-week absence due to a small broken bone in his foot raised conflicting thoughts: Of course he was (and is) the Flyers' leading scorer with 33 goals and second in total points to Mike Richards. He also looked rejuvenated after the layoff.
"The Flyers are the ones looking over their shoulders," Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "Hopefully, with the pressure on them really for the first time, they won't know how to handle it. We sure know how. Maybe that will give us an advantage."