Better With Popcorn

Battered Flyers Host the Rangers in a Must-Win Game

The Matchup:

Philadelphia Flyers (0-3-0) vs. New York Rangers (1-2-0)
Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia, PA
7:00 p.m. on CSN

Setting the Stage:

The Rangers finally righted their ship with a huge overtime win over Boston. After dropping their first two games in embarrassing fashion, New York was in desperate need of a spark. That spark came in the form of Marian Gaborik, whose hat trick was finalized with his overtime winner.

The Flyers are still bailing out water, and now they are finding out they have holes in their buckets. Yesterday was filled with bad news, including the one-game suspension of Brayden Schenn. But where it gets worse is the injury to Scott Hartnell, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Hartnell's injury got added to the list that includes Danny Briere (wrist) and Zac Rinaldo (leg). The Flyers, are winless and need to find a way to beat New York without four forwards tonight.

What to Expect:

New York is heading into this matchup having won the last eight games against the Flyers, including winning all six last season. It has been a completely one-sided rivalry and New York knows they have the Flyers in the position they want them in.

The Flyers hope to put the eight-game skid behind them.

"Last year is last year," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "We have a new team this year."

Gaborik's goals catapulted him into the top scoring spot for the Rangers. Brad Richards is the team leader in points with four (1 goal, 3 assists).

Frustrations couldn't be any higher for Philadelphia right now. They are one of only four teams who have yet to earn a point this season (Carolina, Washington, Los Angeles). Defense, special teams and scoring have been huge problems for the Flyers. Never in their franchise have they started out the season 0-4-0.

In their first three games, the Flyers have scored just three goals (two by Claude Giroux, one by Sean Couturier). They have allowed 11 goals with a league low -8 goal differential. They are 1-for-15 on the power play and have allowed six goals in 16 short-handed attempts.

Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called tonight's game a "must-win." Defenseman Nick Grossmann felt the Flyers "played better as a team" against the Devils on Tuesday.

The Masked Men:

Nothing is final yet, but it appears this match-up could be Ilya Bryzgalov vs Henrik Lundqvist.

Bryzgalov has been the lone bright spot for the Flyers so far, performing well in all three of his losses this season. He has a 3.03 GAA and .902 save percentage despite being 0-3-0. 

Lundqvist has been less than stellar this year. He was fantastic in his first game of the season, a 3-1 loss to Boston, but has looked shaky in his last two games. Lundqvist was chased from a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh and stopped 26-of-29 shots in a 4-3 win over Boston. In his first three games, he is 1-2-0 with a 4.04 GAA and .877 saver percentage.

Keys to the Game:

1. Special teams. The Flyers are being out worked while on the kill, and can't seem to bury while on the man advantage. If they want to get past Lundqvist they will have to finish.

2. Throw the body. The Flyers are without three hitters for this game in Hartnell, Schenn and Rinaldo. Big-bodied forwards like Tye McGinn and Sean Couturier will need to step up their physical game and help create chances for the Flyers.

3. Play like a captain. Giroux knows this is a must-win game and he knows it's going to be tough short-handed against a bitter rival. Giroux will have to step his game up and erase his disappearing act against the Devils on Tuesday.