Flyers / Rangers: Prelude To The Winter Classic
With the Winter Classic right around the corner, the Philadelphia Flyers (21-8-4) received a big boost Wednesday night in Dallas when Claude Giroux returned to the lineup after missing four games with a concussion.
His presence in the lineup is a must and tonight will be a huge test for him and the Flyers as they head to New York to take on the New York Rangers (20-8-4).
In their last match up in New York, a 2-0 loss, Zac Rinaldo and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves four seconds into the game. With the HBO cameras trailing these teams like the paparazzi, it is only natural for the players to want to put on a show.
There is no reason to think tonight will be any different. The Rangers are on a three-game winning streak and are coming off a 4-2 home win against their in-state rivals, the New York Islanders.
The Rangers are 6-4 in their last ten, outscoring opponents 30-23 in that span.
The Flyers are second in points in the NHL (46) only trailing the Chicago Blackhawks. They are two points ahead of the Rangers (44) who sit behind the Flyers for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Flyers are still tops in the league in ‘goals for’ as they are averaging 3.52 goals per game while the Rangers are allowing 2.09 goals per game, third best in the NHL. The Rangers are just as good on the penalty kill killing off 85.3% of all penalties taken (7th).
The Flyers bring with them the ninth best power play unit in the league; they successfully convert 19.5% of the time. Look for these matchups tonight as the game should be chippy and special teams could play a huge role in the game’s outcome.
Night And Day
The coaching styles of Peter Laviolette and John Tortarella are like night and day. While most fans knew what they were going to get from Tortarella, the HBO special, “24/7” is shedding some light on Laviolette's coaching style.
In the last episode, the Flyers were embarrassed 6-0 on their home ice by the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
Post game in the locker room coach Laviolette calmly explained to the boys that this game is over but it should hurt and to put the loss behind them, but to bring the hurt with them to their next game in Colorado.
In the Rangers locker room, between the first and second periods of the team’s game against the St. Louis Blues, coach Tortarella ripped into his team after being down 2-0.
One thing is for sure with this type of coach, you always know where you stand. But on this night his team did not respond to his elevated pep talk and fell 4-1 to the Blues.
Step Up Players
The Havoc Line (Rinaldo, Zolnierczyk, Sestito)
Be sure to follow TCL Flyers on twitter (@TCLFlyers).