Coming off of a disappointing 6-3 loss at the hands of the Lightning, the Philadelphia Flyers will take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight at 7pm. The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
The Flyers saw their streak of 10 consecutive home victories snapped yesterday. In their usual form, they started out poorly, got down by a couple of goals (both 2-0 and 3-1), and eventually tied the game, 3-3. However, after getting down by two goals a second time, 5-3, they were unable to come back. Steve Mason was pulled after the second period and replaced by Ray Emery. Emery will start against the Rangers tonight.
The Rangers, like the Flyers, had a slow start to the season. However, after starting the season 3-7, the Rangers have gone 20-13-3 in their last 36 games and are once again playoff contenders. They are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games including a victory against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. Brad Richards leads the Rangers in scoring with 33 points in 46 games. Superstar Rick Nash, who has missed much of the season with an injury, is back and has three goals in his last three games.
-The Flyers announced today that Steve Downie will be a healthy scratch. According to the Philadelphia media, Berube cited Downie’s lack of ‘shift-to-shift intensity’ as the reason for his current benching. Here are the projected lines:
Raffl – Giroux – Voracek
Hartnell – Schenn – Simmonds
McGinn – Couturier – Lecavalier
Rosehill – Vandevelde – Hall
As long as scratching Downie is a one-time occurrence to shake him out of his sub-par play, I have no problem with the move. If, however, Jay Rosehill gets consistent starts ahead of Downie, that is a big problem. Flyers fans may not understand this move, but Berube is 23-15-4 and has turned this team around. Even though I do not see the point in scratching Downie, Berube has earned my trust. Let’s hope he knows what he’s doing.
-On Tuesday afternoon Andrej Meszaros was named to the Slovakian National Team. In three games since then he has four assists. Beyond that which has been on the score sheet, Meszaros is pushing the play up the ice and leading the rush. Most Flyers fan, myself included, have written Meszaros off. If, however, he can continue to play at this level, it will be a huge help for the team in the stretch run.
-Happy Birthday to Flyers captains Claude Giroux! Today Giroux turns 26. To think that he is older than Simmonds, Voracek, the Schenns, Couturier, Gustafsson, and Raffl is awesome. Yes, this team needs a few things, but their young core is among the best in the league. It is important to remember that most of those players have NOT reached their prime. When they do, we are in for a treat.