Tonight’s game at the Garden between the Flyers and the Rangers is a story of two teams that have rebounded from adversity to sit a point apart from a playoff place. It will be the first time the Flyers have been to the Garden this season.
Both teams have seven wins in there last ten (Philadelphia 7-3-0; New York 7-2-1) and will be looking to push on.
The Flyers have won 5 out of their past 6 road games but tend to struggle at the Garden. Nevertheless, the Flyers won the first meeting this season in a heated affair, beating the Rangers 2-1 Philly behind a stellar 30-save performance from Steve Mason.
With his two assists on Saturday, Claude Giroux now has 21 points in his past 15 games. He will need to fire up the Flyers for arguably their most important game of the season so far.
The Rangers powerplay is red hot at 6th in the NHL after a slow start. The Flyers on the other hand have killed off 22 consecutive penalties over the last seven games.
In a high stakes game The Flyers could move back into second place with a win of any kind against New York if the Capitals loss against Buffalo or if the Flyers take the game to OT
The Rangers could to rise from fourth to second and back into a playoff space.
Simmonds has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 12 games and looked back to his best on the PP. He certainly was not happy with the Flyers defensive display against Tampa last night.
“I think we played like garbage defensively,” Simmonds said. “I thought we had all the chances in the world offensively, we were clicking. We just have to get that defensive game back tight. We have to get it tight going again.”
I am betting on a low scoring tight checking game tonight which could swing the momentum of the Metropolitan division. OT anyone?
Mason posted a .944 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average last season for the Flyers
Steve Mason looks set to start against the New Jersey Devils tonight in net as the Flyers stick with their rotation policy.
Now some writers have been questioning the strength of the Flyers in net. Not an unreasonable topic to consider with the Flyers history of woes in net.
However this season I feel Flyers fans should be looking on with renewed optimism.
Speaking to CSNPHILLY.COM Mason responded to the questions around the Flyers net.
“People are making such a big deal out of it,” Mason said. “Razor [Emery] and I are both competitive guys, we both want to play, and only one can play at a time. Regardless of who’s in the net, we want to be supportive of one another and for the team.
“If Razor wins his next start, it’s great, it’s good for our team. If I win my next, it’s great. We’re not going to put any negative spin on it. It’s nice having two guys that are hungry to play.”
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion,” he said. “I’m not sure where they’re having Razor and myself ranked, but if it’s a low position, it would be a great feeling when you get to prove them wrong.”
Mason certainly believes that both himself and Emery can do well for the Flyers. Philly needed to have a season where there is competition for the starting role. This has been lacking in years gone by and allowed too much media pressure on whoever might protect the net. Spreading the pressure out over two players will allow the Flyers to answer the question they hear every season.
Will the Flyers be vulnerable in net?
This season I can say, with confidence, no!
I read an interesting tweet on twitter that summed up the Flyers off-season moves so far.
Thanks to Dustin Leed @D_LEED 19s
“Briere and Bryzgalov combined to take up $12.1M in Philly cap space. Lecavalier, Streit and Emery will take up $11.35M in cap space.”
Now I don’t think there is a fan in Philly that is unhappy with this trade.
Emery signing on a one year deal http://flyers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=676641 also gives the Flyers flexibility in goal going forward, giving Mason the chance to prove himself.
With Claude Giroux and Adam Hall signed up hopefully there will not be too many further changes in Philadelphia.