I know I said I was going to take a week-long hiatus from writing hockey, but just like battered-wife syndrome, I keep coming back for more. The occasion is up to par though; can’t beat a Rangers/Flyers afternoon game with so much on the line. The Rangers need this game much more than the Flyers, because they sit three points out of the eighth spot in ninth, while the Flyers are in sixth with a seven point edge on the Rangers.
Obviously the Rangers will need goal scoring, and they came though in that department on Friday night in a 5-2 win versus Atlanta. But what has become the epitome of this season is inconsistency. I would very much like to see coach John Tortorella keep the lines together for more than a period, heck, how about the whole game, maybe?
With the offense, though, the Rangers will need to show toughness. In the Rangers last battle with the Flyers, Dan Carcillo got locked up with Marian Gaborik and the two ended up fighting, with the superstar Gaborik taking the beating. Dan Girardi who was just five feet away did nothing to stop it and no other teammate would go after Carcillo, save for the proverbial punching bag Aaron Voros in the third period. Donald Brashear, who fans grew to dislike, was a healthy scratch that night, and even his biggest haters will say that would prove to be one of Tortorella’s biggest mistakes this season.
Now Brashear is gone, banished to Hartford and the Rangers will need new enforcer Jody Shelley to keep things under control. Shelley finally got into his first fight as a Ranger when he dropped the gloves with Pierre “I have twenty-five middle names” Leblond of the Devils, Wednesday night. Scrapper Brandon Prust will also be playing in his first Rangers/Flyers skirmish. If Aaron Voros is in the lineup today, the Rangers will have three able-bodied fighters to match the Flyers, who can put a one on the ice at any given time, with a choice of Carcillo, Asham, Lapperierre, and Hartnell.
Win or lose, this should prove to be an exciting game with an “Old Thyme” hockey feel. I’m not in the business of giving score predictions, but I can actually see a high scoring game this afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
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