Flyers Aim to Snap Winless Streak as They Host Rangers

Flyers' Sean Couturier faceoff vs Rangers
Flyers’ Sean Couturier takes a faceoff vs the New York Rangers (Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

Heading into tonight’s matchup, the Philadelphia Flyers have not won a game in six attempts. In their most recent try, they failed to complete the comeback against the Boston Bruins. Now, they look to snap this streak against a Metropolitan Division rival- the New York Rangers.

This is the second of four meetings between these two teams this season. New York won the first back on December 1st, 4-1, against a near full-strength Flyers’ team (minus Ryan Ellis and Derick Brassard) at Madison Square Garden.

Puck Drop is slated for 7:00PM with the Rangers as -154 moneyline favorites and the total set at 5.5 goals.

Projected Lineups/ Injury Updates

Flyers

The majority of the Flyers who landed in COVID protocols are back as of today. The only update regarding those guys is that Rasmus Ristolainen is cleared, but “not ready,” per interim coach Mike Yeo.

After taking a penalty last game against the Bruins that led to the eventual game-winning goal, Max Willman was sent back down to the Phantoms. Gerry Mayhew was brought back and is slotting into the “second” line with JvR and Kevin Hayes.

Carter Hart should get the nod for this evening. In this career, he’s started nine games against New York, which is tied for second in most against a single team. In those games, he’s 4-3-1 with a 3.37 GAA and .880 save percentage.

As for a quick, general injury update, neither Sean Couturier nor Ryan Ellis has skated since their injuries yet. Both players are receiving the proper rehab and training still, and their timelines are expected to remain the same, per Mike Yeo.

Rangers

The Rangers are currently leading the Metro, but they’ve been doing it by winning close games. Their +16 goal differential is the smallest in the Eastern Conference among teams with a winning record.

They get this done by getting a lead early in a game, and playing a strict defensive structure there on out. On home ice, they’ve scored 15 first period goals and 17 second-period goals, compared to seven and 15 by opponents in those periods. This advantage has led to their 7-1-0 record when leading after the first at home, and 8-0-1 record when leading after two periods at home.

The Rangers are back in the eastern time zone having just completed a west coast swing where they went 2-2. As mentioned, this is the second contest between the clubs. The Rangers won the first game, 4-1 in Madison Square Garden.

For the most part, the majority New York’s lineup is pretty similar to what they’ve rolled with all season. As always, the Flyers will need to watch Mike Zibanejad extra closely, especially with Couturier out. Last season, he had 18 of his 50 points against the Flyers alone, netting seven goals and 11 assists in eight games.

In a Thursday night shutout win over the San Jose Sharks, Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves in his return from COVID-19 protocol. This performance is symbolic of his Venezia-like season between the pipes for New York. Given that the team had Friday night off, it should be expected that Shesterkin gets the nod against Philly tonight. On the season, he’s been stellar en route to his 16-4-2 record, 1.99 GAA, and .939 SV%.

Prediction

Did someone say a Flyers’ upset? If they did, it wasn’t me.

The Flyers’ schedule is very division-opponent-heavy in the coming week. By breaking their losing streak tonight, it could spark some momentum heading into back-to-back games against the Islanders, followed up by games against Columbus and Buffalo. However, I have to save my optimism for a more realistic time.

It’ll be close, and competitive for the most part, but the Rangers extend the Flyers’ losing streak in a 4-3 overtime win tonight.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre

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