Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rangers-Flyers Pregame 11-4

Rangers (6-4-1) at Philadelphia (7-4-1)
Key Opposing Player: Claude Girouix (7-5-12)

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi


The Rangers will look to build off the good finish to October and start to November by seeking their third straight win tonight at the Flyers.  The Rangers will also seek to build on their 4-1 road start to the season.  The Flyers will look to dampen the Rangers road record and build on their own 4 game winning streak they bring to the contest.  As I said last night this game will be returning to the site of a crushing loss which ended the season last year.  The Rangers have play solid fundamental hockey the last two games and virtually all year on the road, hence the success.  The fore-check, cycle and blocking shots will be crucial again for them tonight as will special teams if they are to win the game.

The Ranger fans will seek vengeance not just for that loss but still for the fight against Gaborik which was never really fully paid back.  We can expect that Boogaard gets in at least one scrap tonight, most likely with former Ranger Jody Shelley.  There are plenty of other candidates for fights with the most fun possibly being if Mike Richards and Brandon Dubinsky dance again.  Both of those players play better when they are on the feisty side of things and they obviously don’t care for one another much at all.

For the Rangers the formula for success is simple in that the Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line has to carry the offense and the tempo, the Avery-Boyle-Fedetenko line has to play physical and do dirty work, the Frolov-Christensen-Prust line has to mix and create some chances while the 4th line will get a little bit of time.  On D they have to be tight in the zone, take the body and block a lot of shots while allowing Lundqvist the ability to see the initial shot.

Like them or hate them and Ranger fans certainly hate them, the Flyers are an extremely deep and talented team up front, and on D.  The question for the Flyers is the same as it seemingly always is; Can they get consistently good goaltending?  Up front the Flyers boast four 10+ point scorers in Claude Girouix, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Villie Leino.  Good news for Ranger defenders is that Daniel Briere will miss the game tonight serving the 2nd game of a 3 game suspension for cross-checking (more like baseball swinging) Islander Frans Nielsen in the head.  The other good news is perpetual Ranger killer Simon Gagne is gone from the Flyers team.

On the blue-line they have one of the deepest groups in the league with Timmonen, Pronger, Carle, Coburn, Meszaros as a top 5.  The reality is that group, at least four of them would rank 1st or 2nd on the Rangers D core and probably only Marc Staal would crack their top 4.  In net the Flyers have gotten good performance Sergei Bobrovsky as he has been the goalie in all four games of the win streak and will likely start, but one must wonder if they would at least consider going back to Boucher and it would add another edge to an already edgy game.  Add to that a few former Rangers in the Philly lineup in the form of Betts, Shelley, Zherdev and it will be a fun night.

Prediction: Score reversal of Game 82 Rangers 2-1 (SO)