Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Rangers

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Flyers

Tonight’s game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers from the Wells Fargo Center is the last game before the final full month of regular-season hockey in the 2019-2020 season. The home stretch in the road to the NHL post-season is upon us and the Flyers have an opportunity to be crowned as an elite team in the NHL by Saturday morning. With a win against the Rangers tonight, Philadelphia would be counting on a Carolina Hurricanes win and an Anaheim Ducks win to jump into fifth place in the league standings. When you are a top-five anything, that counts as elite. That is one heck of a jump from not being a playoff team under Dave Hakstol just one season ago, to now being one under Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault.

Both teams are riding a high tonight. The Philadelphia Flyers are winners of four straight games while the New York Rangers have won five in a row. All season long, the Flyers have been one of the strongest home teams in the NHL. Heading into tonight, the Rangers are cruising on a nine-game road winning streak. This back-to-back “home and home” stand between New York and Philadelphia will serve as the 299th and 300th games all-time against each other.

For the Philadelphia Flyers, Carter Hart gets the green light in the net tonight. Across the pond, he will go head-to-head with New York Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev. Over the last ten games, the Flyers own a 7-3 record over the Rangers. Only one of those games went past regulation, which Philadelphia won the shootout on December 23rd, 2018. On the injury report, New York lists Igor Shesterkin (ribs) who will be reassessed after being involved in a car accident and Pavel Buchnevich (undisclosed.)

New York Rangers – Skaters

Offensively, it has been and will be about containing the value of Artemi Panarin. He is one of three players on his team that has scored more than the Philadelphia Flyers leading scorer, Travis Konecny. Panarin’s 87 points are tied for third in the NHL with Connor McDavid. Regardless of the New York Rangers placement in the NHL Metropolitan Division standings, he is a bonafide superstar this season. Panarin is lethal on the powerplay too, getting in on the action for a total of 21 points.

Defensively, my focus is on Adam Fox. Fox is a +19 defenseman who has tallied 34 points this season. He is third of all the New York Rangers defensemen in blocked shots, but his weakness is the ability to play the body. Look out for Fox on the powerplay alongside Artemi Panarin. Both are playmakers when on the man-advantage.

New York Rangers – Goaltending

To my surprise, Alexandar Georgiev has started more games than Henrik Lundqvist this season. With 28 starts, Georgiev has a 16-12-1 record in 2019-2020. He also leads the New York Rangers with two shutouts. The Philadelphia Flyers are going to have to fire shots on Georgiev all night to keep him moving around the crease. Coming into the Wells Fargo Center tonight, Georgiev has allowed 2.94 goals-against average and carries a 91.4% save percentage.

Faceoff Possession

One team has a winning percentage in the faceoff circle that exceeds 50%. The New York Rangers are at 46.4% while the Philadelphia Flyers maintain 54.4%. On the Rangers, the best faceoff opportunist is Boo Nieves. For the Flyers, they look to Sean Couturier. The advantage here stays with Philadelphia.

Prediction

All season, it’s been nothing but good vibrations for the Philadelphia Flyers and the direction that they are headed in. It cannot stop now and it won’t stop tonight. My prediction has the Flyers topping the New York Rangers on home ice. Now with some help from the Carolina Hurricanes and the Anaheim Ducks, we’ll see about being a top-five NHL team by tomorrow morning. Business at hand is the top priority and Philadelphia needs to keep driving away with another important two points.

Puck drop is at 7 pm from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Flyers are favorited on the money line at -165 and the over/under is set at 6. Follow along for live coverage on Twitter at EricReesePSN and additional coverage at PhiladelphiaSN!

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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