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Kevin Klein good to go as Rangers battle the Flyers; Nash still sidelined with bone bruise

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs flyers 1-16

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Despite what he called one of the most painful injuries he’s ever had, Kevin Klein is expected to play as the Rangers (28-28-5) play another important divisional matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers (23-18-8), who are currently riding a three game winning streak.

On the other hand, the Rangers are coming off of a nice bounce back win, as well as some of the most dominant hockey they have played all season long. The last 40 minutes of the game saw the Rangers totally control possession, pepper Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk with tons of shots and shot attempts, and shutting down Minnesota’s forward group. It was an excellent bounce-back performance after a really disappointing loss in New Jersey on Tuesday.

This is the fourth game in the season series, with the fifth and final game taking place in eight days. The Flyers won the first two games, shutting out the Rangers in New York back in November, and winning in the shootout on October 24. New York got their first win of the season against Philly on January 16th, a 3-2 shootout victory.

Steve Mason has shouldered more of the workload in a platoon job with Michal Neuvirth, and he’s started all three games against the Rangers. In the October game, Mason turned aside 37 of the 39 shots he faced, made 24 stops in the shutout win at Madison Square Garden, and had a 29 save performance in the Rangers shootout victory. Needless to say he’s been good against the Blueshirts this season. Mason is 12-12-6 with a 2.71 GAA and a .916 save percentage.

Another Flyer that has been a thorn in the Rangers side is Wayne Simmonds. He’s scored three goals and picked up an assist in the three games between these two teams this season, and he’s streaking right now. Simmonds has scored two goals in each of the last two games, and in three of the last four games. He also is riding a five game point streak (6-3-9).

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be in net for the Rangers, in search of his 25th win of the season. Lundqvist didn’t have a lot of work against Minnesota, facing only 18 shots. Against the Flyers this season in two games, Lundqvist has allowed just four goals on 98 shots against, including a 46 save performance in the shutout loss.

JT Miller is playing the best hockey of his career right now, and he just can’t stop scoring. He’s got four goals in the last three games, and eight in the last eight games. Against Philadelphia this season, he’s scored twice. Miller has set career highs in goals (16), points (29), and tied his career high in assists (13). And it’s only February 6th. Things are looking up for him.

His linemates are reaping the benefit of his fantastic play. Derick Brassard picked up a goal and an assist against the Wild, giving him eight points (3-5-8) in the last three games. Brassard and Miller have combined for seven goals and 16 points in the past two games and are developing fantastic chemistry.

The underappreciated Jesper Fast has been a steady complementary winger alongside Miller and Brassard. While they’ve been the goal scorers in the last three games, Fast hasn’t found the back of the net but he does have three assists in the past four games. His work on the forecheck and his responsible defensive play helps make it a balanced line.

In other news, Rick Nash did not travel to Philadelphia, as his bone bruise is starting to look much more serious. Kevin Klein will likely play in the game, as long as the doctors approve it. It’s great that he’s back, but unfortunately, Vigneault will likely take out Kevin Klein.

The Rangers and the Flyers will face off at the Wells Fargo Center at 1 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES

JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Jesper Fast

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Viktor Stalberg

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Daniel Paille

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on February 6, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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