The New York Rangers (2-3-0) and Philadelphia Flyers (2-4-0) each find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division as we approach the team's second meeting in the shortened 2013 season.
Tonight will mark the second meeting between the two teams in five days, and the Rangers hope to come out better this time around, as their top line was "invisible" according to head coach John Tortorella in the team's 2-1 loss.
“We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did down there. They have a lot of talent up front and can score goals,” alternate captain Brad Richards said. “But, we’ve got to worry about ourselves. I think that’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to back it up.
If the team — and it's top line — plays like it did Saturday against Toronto, they should have no problem evening the series against the Flyers. In that matchup, the Rangers owned a large advantage in both puck possession and shots on goal on their way to a 5-2 victory.
This matchup is sure to be much more physical, given the history between the two teams, so not only must the Rangers be up to that task, but they must also work the power play.
The power play has been horrible to start the year, and it's an abysmal 2-for-22 (including one five-on-three in four chances) through five games. One of those failed five-on-three opportunities came vs. the Flyers, and the Rangers' inability to score on the opportunity was the game-changing moment.
Head coach John Tortorella had the team spend an extra 20 minutes in practice on special teams Monday hoping to work out the flaws. Oddly enough, however, the team is 0-for-9 on the power play in its two victories, while both power play goals have come in losses.
Either way, Tortorella would like more consistent possession and shots while on the man advantage.
“Though we were an oh-fer,” Tortorella said of the Rangers’ 0 for 4 performance in Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs, ” we created some chances, some more zone time. Obviously it’s something we need to get a little consistency there.”
Henrik Lundqvist will be making his sixth consecutive start tonight, and just wants to win. He said he doesn't care how the team does it, but getting the "w" is all that matters.
“If you want to be a top-five team in the league, you have to be consistent,” Lundqvist said. “You have to come back after a good game and win an even better game. You’re not gonna play great every night but you need to find a way to win games, be consistent that way. That’s how you’re gonna start coming back and put yourself in good position."
Lundqvist has been hung out to dry a lot this season, hence a very un-Lundqvist state line. He currently boasts an .893 save percentage and a 3.14 goals against average, but many goals haven't been his fault. Earlier in the year, the puck spent a lot of time in the Rangers' zone, so shots were getting to Lundqvist often. He made many saves that other goaltenders may not have made, but how much can be asked of the man?
Odd-man situations in the NHL lead to goals, so the way New York played earlier in the year, pucks hitting the back of the net were inevitable. If the team continues to play like it did vs. Toronto, with the puck in the offensive zone more, expect to see Lundqvist to deliver like he did in the second and third periods of that game.
Lastly, both teams have new additions since the last time they faced off. With the injury to Scott Hartnell, the Flyers went out and signed veteran free-agent Mike Knuble. Meanwhile, the Rangers added Benn Ferriero via trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he's expected to start on the third line alongside Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt tonight.
With no training camp, progress is being made by this New York Rangers team, and tonight they must continue to grow and beat the Flyers to even their record.
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