Tuesday, April 3, 2012
W2W4: Rangers vs. Flyers
By Katie Strang
At a glance: Standings are at stake in the sixth and final meeting of these two nasty division rivals Tuesday. The Rangers have yet another opportunity to clinch the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division title, while the Flyers try to fight off the series sweep and gain the advantage over Penguins for home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
Favorable odds: The Rangers have dominated the Flyers all season, taking all five of the teams’ meetings including the 2012 Winter Classic. New York has outscored Philly 19-8 during that span and has established success even with it’s woefully inconsistent power-play. Although the unit enters Tuesday’s match ranked 27th in the league, the power-play has gone 5-for-19 (26.3%) against Philly this season.
Make it ten: With the Rangers still seeking the top seed, the team returns to starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes. Lundqvist will make his season-high tenth straight start Tuesday against the Flyers.
Missing in action: The Flyers will be missing one of their top forwards in the absence of center Danny Briere, who, according to the team, is “out indefinitely” with an upper-body contusion. Briere suffered the injury in a fiery 6-4 battle against the Penguins Saturday when he was crushed by an open-ice hit from Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale late in the third. The hit ignited a nasty skirmish that culminated with Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh assistant Tony Granato being tossed. Defenseman Nicklas Grossman also was injured after a collision with Vitale Sunday; he is expected to miss 7 to 10 days with a lower-body injury.
That’ll cost you: Speaking of Sunday’s fracas, both coaches were fined by the league for their actions; Laviolette was docked $10,000, Granato $2,500. Both pale in comparison to Rangers coach John Tortorella’s hefty fine of $30,000, assessed after he criticized the officiating in this year’s Winter Classic.
Rough stuff: Tempers are unlikely to abate Tuesday, either. Both the Rangers and the Flyers rank among the top three team in the league for fighting majors. New York is 1st in the NHL with 63, Philadelphia is 3rd with 54. The last two games between the two teams – both 5-2 wins for the Rangers-- featured 12 fighting majors combined.