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NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Rangers battle in ‘huge’ game

Mar 26, 2013, 8:03 AM EST

Jakub Voracek #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers takes a shot as Michael Del Zotto #4 of the New York Rangers defends on March 5, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.The New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2.
(March 4, 2013 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET.

After back-to-back losses, the Philadelphia Flyers have slipped to 13th place in the Eastern Conference and are five points behind their opponents, the eighth place Rangers.

At this point, it’s hard to look at the Flyers’ playoff chances as anything other than slim, but if they are to start a comeback, it needs to happen now.

“This week coming up is huge for us,” Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said in a CSN Philly report. “And it starts tomorrow with the Rangers in the eighth spot. That is a huge game.”

The Rangers need every point they can get too. Their hold on the eighth seed is a thin one and after two straight defeats, they need to turn things around quickly or it will be lost. As it is, the ninth place Carolina Hurricanes are just one point behind despite the fact that the Rangers have a game on them.

For the Rangers, offense has been a big problem all season long. They are the second worst team in the NHL with an average of 2.26 goals scored per game.

That’s a massive step backwards from how they did offensively in 2011-12 when they won the Eastern Conference and the decline came in spite of the fact that they went out and got Rick Nash in the off-season.

The Rangers are close to getting back forward Mats Zuccarello to help in that regard, but he won’t be available for this contest.

Despite the Rangers’ struggles, Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will still be a key factor in this game. He turned aside 33 of 35 shots in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 overtime win against Philadelphia on Sunday.

“Bryz was unbelievable. … If he plays like that, we’re going to be hard to beat,” Timonen said.

Conversely, if he struggles against the Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers will likely find themselves seven points out of eighth place with just 16 contests to go.

Probable goaltenders: PHI – Bryzgalov (13-13-2, 2.75 GAA, .900 SV%) | NYR – Henrik Lundqvist (13-12-2, 2.21 GAA, .921 SV%)

Top scorers: PHI – Jakub Voracek (13-19-32, 31 GP) | NYR – Nash (10-15-25, 27 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Philadelphia – Forwards: Daniel Briere (concussion), Jody Shelley (hip) Defensemen: Nicklas Grossmann (upper body), Chris Pronger (concussion), Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion)
New York – Forwards: J.T. Miller (wrist) Defensemen: Marc Staal (eye), Michael Sauer (concussion)

  1. bobhpine - Mar 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Huge battle…for ninth place.

    Oh wait, Philly is way back of ninth place, nevermind.

    • ibieiniid - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      if they win this game, they’ll be 2 pts out of 9th (3 out of 8th)

      you’re really trying to hard.

      • ibieiniid - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        TOO* hard. i’m ashamed of myself

    • ml3939 - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Bobhpiningforattention again.

      • hockeywithdrawal - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        and ml3939, saying “Bobhpiningforattention again”. Again. I just can’t understand how there’s this big article, with plenty to comment on…and people choose to comment on other commenters. Yes Bobhpine was not flattering to the Flyers, and is not under any obligation to be a Flyers fan in order to post – but at LEAST he’s commenting on the team in the article.

      • ml3939 - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        If he comments on a Flyers article, he just trolls it. I generally think you are a troll who just hates the Flyers as well offering no points you cannot back up. However, I have no issue with what you posted here. I offered no criticism of what you stated whether I agree with it or not. I don’t mind seeing people post negative thoughts about the Flyers if it is warranted, justified or even logically presumed. I don’t like seeing people just trolling Pens’ articles either.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Mar 26, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      Piney Bob talking out of his rear again. Keep hoping for the Flyers to miss the playoffs. Its your only hope of getting Cindy and the Gals past the first round in the past three years.

  2. yougotgirouxed - Mar 26, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    The Flyers have been playing Huge games for two weeks and they have lost most of them. I seems like nobody wants to count us out because of our reputation as a tough consistent playoff team. But this may not be our year.

    That said, they I expect the Flyers to look much different next season.

    • tatdue - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      For the rest of the Flyers fan bases sake I hope the team has more confidence in themselves than you do in the team….

  3. broadstbully33 - Mar 26, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Troll^^ bobhpine just waits for flyers articles so he can feel relevant in his pointless sad life. Keep your head up kid.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Mar 26, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      You do the same thing, broadst. Which is worse….trolling an article, or trolling a troll?

      • bobhpine - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        Wait wait… He’s the “broad street bully33″

        He picked a name for himself that implies that he is tough and somehow apart of the Flyers…I guess.

        That my friends, is sad.

      • ibieiniid - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        @bobhpine. at least he doesn’t pick his own f—ing name as a handle…. you egotist as-bag

  4. hockeywithdrawal - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    5 point difference between the two teams, and somehow Philly is still not out of it (look at LA last year for gad’s sake). Philly fans have a lot to be excited about, but they do not look like the same team as last year. Winning and losing streaks happen, to any team, but there’s something deeper going on, and I think the team knew it when they brought back Knuble and Gagne. Veterans help….but it’s not helping.

    If they don’t get a sense of identity (of their OWN, don’t give me this Broad Street Bully sh*t from 40 years ago, no one is buying it) and starting wanting to fight for one another more than themselves, they can forget it. For starters the “C” needs to go to someone that exhibits the willingness to fight for the team, over himself. Giroux is a hell of an athlete but no leader…outside of one shift in one period in one hockey game.

    If they don’t turn it around this week fans can at least start cheering for the draft.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      Look Giroux is having a down year and so is the team but I’m getting tired of Pens fans acting like he has no leadership experience. He’s had an “A” for awhile and when Pronger went down Giroux became the de-facto captain anyway. That series victory against the Pens last season was with Giroux LEADING the team. The Flyers struggles this season go far beyond the performance of the captain. He cannot be the one to score every PP goal, stop every penalty kill, and play D for the entire team. I’m not happy with his production but this misguided notion that it’s somehow because he’s self-centered is not only inaccurate, it’s laughable. I know Pens fans are doing everything possible to return the trash talk following last years series, especially about Crosby being unfit to lead, but in no way does G put himself before the team. It’s a team game and you can look up and down the roster and see players who are underperforming. Pens fans can’t wait to jump on Giroux and the Flyers because they’re bitter about the best player in the world comment and the way Philly fans criticized Crosby last year. But even Crosby needs someone to put it in the net. He has Kunitz and Dupuis contributing. James Neal and Brandon Sutter provide timely scoring. Even Vitale and Kennedy have scored big goals for the Pens. The Flyers have gotten almost no timely scoring. There have been countless times where Giroux has set someone up and they just can’t finish the job. I mean Hartnell, Briere, Read, Voracek, McGinn, the list goes on and on for the number of linemates who have been shuffled to Girouxs wing. Even Schenn and Simmonds haven’t scored in awhile. And they get next to nothing from their D corps. Giroux is close to a point per game but with NO ONE else stepping up you can’t expect him to put up numbers close to Crosby. I mean Pens fans went on about how his goal was such a fluke and required no skill, blah, blah, blah… who cares! He put the puck in the net, it doesn’t matter how. He put his team in a position to WIN the game, what a captain is supposed to do. And what does the rest of the team do? They take two stupid penalties and BLOW the game. And that type of stuff has happened ALL season. That’s not a leadership problem, it’s about a lack of focus, and each player not being personally responsible for their individual performance. You can yell at a player all you want, you can tell them “don’t make a pass into traffic in your own zone” or “don’t take a penalty” at a crucial time but it’s up to each individual to play smart and do the right thing. Giroux does not have some device where he controls the actions of the rest of the team to stop them from making mistakes, he does not control the gameplans, adjustments, or personnel. So quit trying to act like he’s the catalyst for the struggles of the entire team. The Flyers problems go far beyond Giroux. They have no #1 defenseman, and just ask the Wild how important that is. They have a goalie who can look like a Vezina trophy candidate one game then give up 5 goals on 10 shots the next. And they have a forward group, that carried them last season, but has vastly underperformed this year. I’m not happy with anything about the Flyers this season, Giroux has underperformed, but to say it’s because of a lack of leadership is misguided and inaccurate. If the C wasn’t on Girouxs sweater where would it be? Timmonen or Briere? Well guess what, those guys are in the lockerroom. They are already a huge part of the leadership and the Flyers are still where they are. It has NOTHING to do with where the C is.

      • hockeywithdrawal - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        Whew was a lot! But I actually don’t DISagree with your opinion, just don’t agree with your conclusion. Don’t have any issue with Giroux’s production, either. The team seems soulless to me – and it’s an all-year thing, not talking about a series, or a game. It shouldn’t take a GM holding a stick to get guys to buy into being a part of the team. That’s a Captain’s job, to me. No denying that I think more of a sneaky little brat coward than a leader, but that’s kind of my point. If we don’t agree on the argument, we can’t agree on the conclusion. I just think a Captain that didn’t have those qualities would be better for a team struggling with an identity.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        Haha well I tend to rant about The Flyers as they’ve upset me so much this season. But I won’t disagree that they don’t seem to have an identity this season, but it’s basically the same roster as last season. It’s the same leadership group. They’ve just gone from being productive to unproductive, and when that happens fans tend to start pointing fingers. But see, “sneaky little brat coward”, that’s the same exact way Crosby appeared during last years series. When you’re losing everything seems negative. Crosby seems like a different leader this year and it’s because they’re winning. Losing brings out the worst in people and we saw that with Crosby, now we’re seeing it with Giroux. The Flyers have found a way to lose in so many different, heartbreaking ways that it has to wear on you. I mean Shane Doan is considered the epitome of a captain, but during the Yotes recent 5-game skid, he went off on a rant, and what some would consider whining. Losing has that effect on professional athletes. This Flyers core is extremely young, everything came easy last year, and I think they all thought they could coast into a playoff spot this year. It hasn’t worked like that, they’re facing their first real adversity dealing with it, and it’s been a learning experience. Giroux hasn’t performed like we all expect, but my main point is that it’s a team game and he’s not getting help from anyone, besides Voracek. And like I said, if G didn’t have the C then it would be on Timonen or Briere and they’d be in the same position. Giroux isn’t Pronger, but that comes with experience.

  5. manchestermiracle - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Flyer fans are a bit touchy, no? Maybe you should just be glad a 13th-place team is still getting ink and air-time as if they were relevant.

    • ml3939 - Mar 26, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      Maybe you should pay attention as this site gets most of it’s traffic from Flyers fans and the fans who hate them (Penguins fans). Look at the responses to articles about the Flyers and Penguins. They get the most responses by far.

  6. myroncopesflask - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Does 1975 ring a bell in Philly? lol

    • ibieiniid - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      ya i know that number. it’s between 1,974 and 1,976.

    • ml3939 - Mar 26, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Yes, it marks the first time the Penguins filed for bankruptcy and the same year in which they became the second team in North American sports history to lose a seven game series in which they led three games to none. Any other brain busters?

  7. johnstone17 - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    As a Rangers fan, I just think this team is a nervous wreck with totalitarian Tortorella behind the bench. You have some talented players gripping their sticks like they are trying to break them instead of using them for the intended purpose of offense & defense. I think the only way this team makes the playoffs is with a coaching change. I hope I’m wrong, but……………………………….

    • valoisvipers - Mar 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      I totally agree with your post, Torts treat the players worse than a Middle East Dictator. Maybe he should grow a beard and join the Taliban.

    • jpelle82 - Mar 26, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      torts needs to be in a place like buffalo or tb (oh wait…) where they need a swift kick in the pants. the rangers are an established highly skilled team with a lot of veterans who probably dont appreciate being treated like children or being micromanaged. i dont see it happening any time soon but a change of pace could be needed for the existing rangers core, they might need a real player’s coach instead of a slavedriver.

  8. valoisvipers - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I would expect the Flyers to win tonight as the Rangers are ripe for the picking and the Flyers should be playing desperate hockey for here on. I am still surprised at all the blame fans are quick to toss on Bryz yet give Giroux a free pass on his sub par performance. I guess goalies and coaches are easy scapegoats.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      The Flyers never win when the games are “ripe for the picking”. They’ll find a way to lose 3-2 on a deflection or defensive breakdown. But people see games like Sunday night where Bryz was almost unbeatable and think that’s him, but he’s wildly inconsistent. After the first few weeks of the season, where he was admittedly excellent, he has fallen back into his old way, for the most part. His performance Sunday was a tease, one of those games he provides a glimpse of what he could be. Maybe it has to do with a lack of rest, but looking at his OVERALL body of work this season it hasn’t been that much better than last season. He’s had more elite level performances but he still has plenty of stinkers on his resume. I like Bryz but you never know what he’s gonna give you. He may shutout the Rangers tonight or he could give up 5 goals. That’s the major problem with him. But when you pay a guy $5.67 million a year there has to be some level of consistency to his game.

      • valoisvipers - Mar 26, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        That’s kinda my point about Bryz, a lot weird stuff happens right in front of him.Lots of deflections off of sticks and skates compiled with glaring giveaways have been the Flyer’s bane this year. The defense gets some blame in this department but so does the offensive’s lack of commitment to the back check. Bottom line is they need to play focused,determined,desperate hockey as a team and not as individuals.

      • valoisvipers - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:26 AM

        You were right phillyphanatic, The Flyers don’t win the games against teams that are ripe for the picking.Cue the Fat Lady as it is time to sing. Lets hope they get worse and improve their draft position.

    • djamesbart - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      Nailed that one! ;)

  9. blackfoot11 - Mar 26, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Good slate of games with implications tonight other than Flyers v. Rangers. Caps v. Isles, Jets v. Canes, Pens v. Canadiens. Great night for hockey.

  10. hockeyfan28 - Mar 26, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Would love to back into the playoffs again and stick it to Pittsburgh because its pretty obvious
    the flyers are the one team that give these guys fits but not so sure for the franchise I’m crazy about it.
    It would then give Holmgren the belief that the roster is fine with just a little tweaking when clearly they
    need a scorer up front and a couple defensemen on the backend not to mention some serious talent in this draft.

  11. bobhpine - Mar 26, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    0-6 in cup finals since 1975. The buffalo bills laugh at you.

    • ml3939 - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      I am pretty sure the Bills would take 1 championship let alone 2. It’s more likely that life laughs at the guy who lives to troll.

  12. myroncopesflask - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    The funniest thing to me is that the crappy Pirates have won more rings than the Flyers since 1975. The Pirates as in the worst team in porfessional sports! Yes that team has more success than the Flyers. If the Pittsburgh Pirates are the standard in which your hockey team can be compared to I have nothing a but a good long laugh anytime a Flyers fan ever has anything to say about the pens bankruptcy. At least the Pens got two cups out of their financial problems. The Flyers just burn money every year to win a whole bunch of anger and sadness.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 26, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      I’d rather have my team be in it every year and have them do everything possible to win then tank to get a top draft pick, let alone tank five straight years. The Pens have a 3-2 edge in Cups but in between those championships the fans gave up on them. A lot of people from Pittsburgh act like attendance dwindled when the Pens were the worst team in hockey but that’s inaccurate. People stopped going in the late 90s when Jagr was still in his prime and they were still playoff contenders.

      Ive posted this before but here’s their sellout numbers by year: 97-98 (7 out of 41), 98-99 (5), 99-00 (13), 00-01 (26), 01-02 (18), 02-03 (8), 03-04 (1)… then Crosby comes… 05-06 (12), 06-07 (30)… then the Stanley Cup visits… 07-08 (41), 08-09 (40), and they’ve sold out ever since. That absolutely shows the fairweather tendencies of Pens fans. Until they were a Stanley Cup favorite people from Pittsburgh avoided the Pens like the plague. We may not have won a Cup recently but we don’t desert our team when they’re not winning. The Pens went into bankruptcy because of a lack of support, not because Ed Rendell had some vendetta against Pittsburgh. No governor would provide taxpayer money to a team that has no support and can’t generate revenue despite having two of the best players in the history of the sport in Jagr and Lemieux.

      • ml3939 - Mar 26, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        I am still waiting for all of the proud Pens’ fans who visit this site to address the fact that all three of their beloved championships and the mere existence of their franchise is predicated on the team intentionally losing games to draft Mario.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Mar 26, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      God you people are half retarded. Pitt has exactly one stinking cup more than the Flyers since your teams inception. You also have more bankruptcy filings than cups. If you want to go by history than the Habs are untouchable. Can’t you idiots be happy that your team is in 1st and playing great hockey( until their next first round exit) rather than trolling every single Flyers article.

  13. broadstbully33 - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Almost perfectly said phillyphanatic. Except voracek has been very productive but has not had timely goals or game breaking goals. Everything else you said was right on the mark. Philly may be down but never out. Missing playoffs is not really in this franchises blood. 1 time in 20 years is nothing to snarl at. When it’s mathamatically impossible then ill count them out. If they get hot and bry can play like he did against Pitt I would think no team esp the pens would want to meet them in the first round. There is a nice winning streak in store IMO for the flyers and if its 7 or more games means a spot in playoffs

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Mar 26, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      True, BB33. Bryz has to show the same poise in the last game. A couple of days ago the caps were all but counted out and now they are hot. This team needs to get the same type of spark.

  14. dmyanks1 - Mar 26, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    This a big game? Give me a break either team will be lucky if they make the playoffs. You mean to tell me this is a better game to show rather than the top two teams in the East playing that being the Canadiens and the Penguins. Sorry I won’t even bother tonight as I am so tired of the Flyers being on every other night.

  15. bobhpine - Mar 26, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Why does Scott Hartnell get such a pass from Philly fans? The guy gets paid a ton and he has five points, on the fourth line. I know Philly fans are always oddly obsessed with hating their goalie, but Hartnell is good for a dumb penalty per game and that’s about it.

    • ml3939 - Mar 26, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      I think the defense is taking the brunt of the criticism. I think he is also living off his contributions from the Stanley Cup run and last year’s performance. Coupled with the early season injury, he is skating under the radar. If he keeps it up, he will get his. He always got crushed before the cup run. There is a lot of blame to go around this season so he has been lucky.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Mar 26, 2013 at 7:50 PM

      Probably the same reason Malkin and his whopping 5 goals gets a free pass and is good for multiple dumb penalties per game.

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