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Rangers take on Flyers in rivalry matchup with trade rumors looming

Bobby Bevilacqua

carl hagelin 11-19

Carl Hagelin and the Rangers are in Philadelphia looking to extend their win streak to five games in a rivalry matchup. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Looking to extend their win streak to five, and set a record for wins in February with 11, the Rangers (38-16-6) will take on the Philadelphia Flyers (26-25-11) for the final time this season, with the Flyers desperately trying to get back into the playoff race.

The Rangers are looking to finish a season series sweep against the Flyers, having already won the first three game this season. The Rangers have outscored the Flyers 10-2 in those games, shutting them out twice. Coincidentally, Cam Talbot was in net for both of the shutouts, and will be the Rangers goalie again tonight.

The Flyers initially looked dead in the water back in November and December, but have been playing much better lately, bringing themselves to within six points of the final Wild Card spot in the east. The Flyers have two of the highest scoring players in the league as well. Jakub Vorachek is having a career year, and is tied for first in the NHL in points with 64 (19-45-64). Their captain Claude Giroux is also having a great season, not far behind Vorachek in points with 59 (18-41-59) in 61 games.

Michael Del Zotto, the former Rangers first round draft pick, has settled in nicely in Philadelphia. Del Zotto is seventh on the team, and second amongst defensemen, in points, tallying 24 (7-17-24) in 50 games played. However, 14 of those points (5-9-14) have come in the last 17 games, and he has played less than 21 minutes in just one of those games.

The Flyers power play is dangerous, second in the league with a 23.6% efficiency. Amazingly, Claude Giroux has not scored an even strength goal at home this season, but he has 11 power play goals and 20 power play assists this season. Wayne Simmonds, a strong net front presence, leads the team with 13 power play goals.

Steve Mason, who has been injured often this season, is back and healthy, and will start in net for the Flyers. Mason is 11-13-7 with a 2.26 GAA and a .925 save percentage, solid numbers without results.

Cam Talbot will be the Rangers goalie, and he is coming off of a 37 save performance against the Coyotes. He has fared well against the Flyers this season, and will need to be strong again as the Rangers look to start their tough stretch of games with a win. Talbot is 12-5-3 with a 2.49 GAA and a .915 save percentage in 22 appearances this season, 20 of them being starts.

cam talbot save 11-19

Cam Talbot is back in net for the Rangers tonight. He has two shutouts against the Flyers this season, and is looking to add to that total. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

The Rangers are certainly focusing on today’s game, but a lot of uncertainty is in the air during practice. The Rangers are apparently actively shopping John Moore, and talented but frustrating defenseman with his defensive liability alongside Dan Boyle at times. With that in mind, expect him to play tonight in case the Rangers are showcasing him for potential trade partners.

Fan favorite Mats Zuccarello, who is an unrestricted free agent after this season, has popped up in rumors again, with contract negotiations not going well. The Rangers apparently offered him four years, $4.5 million per, but the rumors say Zuccarello is looking for five years for at least $5 million. Zuccarello will play tonight, but make sure to enjoy the game, as this may be his last game in a Rangers uniform.

Lee Stempniak is coming off of his best game of the season, scoring two goals, including the game winner, against the Coyotes on Thursday. Stempniak now has nine goals this season, including four points (3-1-4) in the last seven games. Stempniak has fit in comfortably on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and former college teammate Tanner Glass, just as the line is starting to play their best hockey of the season. Finally, the Rangers can rely on their bottom line to bring some production to each game.

dominic moore and lee stempniak 2-24

Dominic Moore and Lee Stempniak have helped to rejuvinate the fourth line, and are hoping to keep rolling in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Kevin Hayes signing has continued to work in the Rangers favor, as he has consistently developed into a solid third line center for the team. He is playing at an extremely high level, with 11 points (5-6-11) in his last 11 games. Hayes brings depth scoring to the team, and is one of the key players for the Rangers going forward.

Alongside Hayes is Carl Hagelin, playing some of the best hockey of his career. It seems to me that he has developed more confidence, and has been using his tremendous speed to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. With 14 goals and 14 assists, Hagelin is coming alive over the last month, and he is my player to watch tonight.

Jesper Fast was on the ice for the morning skate, but Vigneault hinted at the fact that he may need one more practice before he is ready. So I would assume his return would be on Monday night.

The Rangers and Flyers will face off at 8 PM at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will be broadcasted on NBC.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

John Moore-Dan Boyle

Cam Talbot

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Posted on February 28, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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