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Rangers head to Philly for Black Friday showdown against the Flyers

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-flyers-1-16

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Before starting the preview, I hope all of my readers had a fantastic Thanksgiving yesterday. I’m thankful for every single one of you that reads my articles, leaves comments, and supports me and my website. Thank you so much!

Following an ugly loss at the hands of the Penguins on Wednesday, the Rangers (14-6-1) head to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers (9-9-3) at the Wells Fargo Center for the first time this season.

New York was shelled in their last game, a 6-1 loss to Pittsburgh that saw the Rangers get outshot 38-17, with Rick Nash scoring the only goal. The Flyers are also coming off of a loss, falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road. Today begins a three game home stand for Philadelphia, as well as a stretch of seven of their next nine games at home.

This is the first of four games between the Rangers and the Flyers this season, and the first of two to be held in Philadelphia. Last season, three of the four games between these teams went the shootout, and each team walked away with two wins, but the Flyers had a point in all four games. Chris Kreider led the Rangers with two goals and an assist, while JT Miller also scored two goals. Henrik Lundqvist never posted a save percentage less than .929 in his three starts, including a 46 save effort in a shootout loss, and a 34 save shootout win.

Steve Mason has started the last eight games since Michal Neuvirth went down with an injury, including back-to-back nights on Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s hard to believe that the Flyers would start him for three games in four nights, so there’s a chance that Anthony Stolarz could make his NHL debut. Mason has also struggled this season, going 5-7-3 with a 3.04 GAA and a .893 save percentage. Stolarz, 22, is 6-foot-4 and has been excellent for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season, going 6-2-0 with a 2.39 GAA and a .927 save percentage.

Wayne Simmonds has always been a thorn in the Rangers’ side, and that could continue as he is off to a great start this season. Simmonds has scored 10 goals and 18 points in the Flyers’ 21 games. Five of those goals have come on the power play, where he often best demonstrates his net front presence. He’s a nuisance, tough to defend and an excellent hockey player, with three points (2-1-3) in the last four games.

On Simmonds’ line is 19-year-old rookie Travis Konecny, who made the leap to the NHL after a strong preseason showing. Konecny scored 30 goals and 101 points in 60 OHL games last season, and has had a pretty good start to the year with Philly, scoring four goals and tallying eight assists. Konecny is said to have tremendous skating ability, acute awareness, excellent puckhandling skills and a very quick release on his shot. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how he plays.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected in net. Lundqvist allowed four goals on 17 shots in the loss to the Penguins before being removed from the game, but he was a bit unlucky. The four goals came on a slot line pass, a deflection, and odd-man rush and a deflection off of Ryan McDonagh’s stick. It’s not like he let in soft goals on east plays. Hank is 9-6-1 with a 2.46 GAA and a .911 save percentage.

In practice yesterday, Matt Puempel was getting a chance on the fourth line with Josh Jooris and Jesper Fast. There’s a very good chance that he play’s over Oscar Lindberg, who seems to be the odd man out for AV this season. It would be Puempel’s debut with the Rangers.

Rick Nash looks like he’s starting to heat up, scoring goals in back-to-back games, and he has totaled 11 points (7-4-11) in the last 15 games. With Mika Zibanejad out, Nash is a good candidate to step up and fill the offensive void left by Zbad, which means a lot of shots and a power play presence. So far, he’s done a good job.

Brady Skjei was one of the defensemen that impressed me in the first period of Wednesday’s debacle in Pittsburgh. His passing skills are really good, and he makes a lot of crisp, clean passes that either set up a scoring chance or start a transition/breakout. His 11 assists are more than I had expected at this point, and he’s been a bright spot on a sometimes spotty defensive corps.

The Rangers and the Flyers will faceoff at the Wells Fargo Center at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Michael Grabner-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

Chris Kreider-Kevin Hayes-Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey-Brandon Pirri-JT Miller

Matt Puempel-Josh Jooris-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Brady Skjei

Nick Holden-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on November 25, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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