Game Day: Flyers / Rangers Matinée
In the win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night Chris Pronger would take a shot off his right foot in the second period, he went on to finish the period but did not return for the third. The injury required him to have surgery on Friday to repair his first metatarsal and will be out four to six weeks.More on that later..
The Rangers are coming off a 4-3 overtime shootout win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. Martin Biron was in net for NY and picked up the win.
The Flyers and Rangers last met on November 4th in Philly, a game in which the Flyers won 4-1 and scored three of their four goals in the first period. The Flyers are on a four game winning streak that included some big wins against the Bruins, Pens and Habs.
That stretch of wins has allowed the Flyers to grab the top spot in the league.The Rangers will bring a three game winning streak of their own to Philly today. In their last ten games the Rangers are 7-3, while the Flyers are 6-1-3 in that span.
The Flyers lead the second place Penguins by three points with 47 and the third place Rangers by six points in the standings. The Flyers are second in the league in goals scored with 3.55 per game while the Rangers are in fifth with 3.00 goals per game.
The Rangers are a puck blocking machine averaging more than seventeen blocks per game in their last three with a 22 block performance on Wednesday against the Pens.The Rangers lead the league in blocked shots with 559 followed closely by your Philadelphia Flyers with 556.
The Flyers will have their hands full while Pronger is out for the next four to six weeks. There is no doubt what he means to this team offensively and defensively on special teams and at full strength. He is not someone that is easily replaceable with or without cap space.
The Flyers will have to stick together as they welcome Oskars Bartulis back to the lineup, he hasn't played with the Flyers since November first. He seemed to step up in the playoffs last year and with the right defense partner he should be able to hold down the fort until Pronger returns.
If he can't handle it the Flyers will not be able to add any help from outside as they have no cap room, in house they have a couple of options beyond Bartulis with Danny Syvret and Erik Gustafsson who currently play for the Phantoms and could possibly get the call.
Syvret has NHL experience and has played for the Flyers last season. He would score the Flyers only goal at the Winter Classic in Boston. Gustafsson has recently accumulated 24 points in 29 games and leads the team in scoring.
Expect Timonen and O'Donnell to step up their games and display the leadership skills they have gained over their playing careers. One area that could suffer more than others could be the goaltending which has been a strong area for the team this season. That reason could be the stellar defense that Holmgren has put together this off season. Bobrovsky started this season on fire and Boucher has been playing really well lately, is their performance a result of the strong defensive play ? In Pronger's absence, can the defense play close to the same level it has all season ? These next four to six weeks should answer these questions and more.
Step Up Players
Timonen, Bartulis, Goaltending