It's an early start for the New York Rangers today, as they go up against their Winter Classic foes at 2 p.m.. The Philadelphia Flyers (13-6-3) have won two straight, and are looking for a chance to knock the Rangers down a peg.
The Rangers, on the other hand, are coming off their best win of the season in a 6-3 decision over the Washington Capitals and should be ready to tackle a hated division rival.
Here's how they can do it.
Don't Be Stupid: It's the Flyers, players are going to get aggravated and annoyed on both sides of the puck. The trick is to make sure New York is the one doing the aggravating and not taking the penalties. The Rangers went 1-for-5 on the power play against Washington, and didn't really create too many chances on the first three opportunities they had (all coming in a slow first period). If you want to beat a team as good as the Flyers, you have to stay out of the box and you have to push them when they find themselves in it.
Join me after the jump for more, including the Rangers official pre-game notes.
Keep Henrik Clean: The Flyers are a team that loves to drive to the net, so the Rangers' defenders are going to have to be ready to clear the crease as much as possible. Henrik Lundqvist steps up in big games, but there is little he can do when there are multiple players screening him. Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh are going to play critical roles tonight, and will need to make sure their goalie has lots of room to work comfortably.
All Hail The King: Speaking of Lundqvist, the Rangers goaltender will have to be on his game today. He was against the Capitals and that needs to carry over. The Flyers are a very good offensive team -- maybe the most dangerous the Rangers have faced all year -- and despite some injuries, can still put the puck into the back of the net. They're going to get their chances, Lundqvist just needs to make sure the red light stays off when they get them.
Make Some Noise: I think Rangers-Flyers games might be my favorite games to attend, at least it's been that way the past three or four years. The rivalry is the most intense, the two teams are generally good and both sides genuinely hate one another. It makes for unbelievable hockey. So tonight, when the Flyers visit the Garden, I expect nothing less than blow-your-ear-out volume and a great atmosphere.
Rangers pre-game notes below:
* All information through NHL games on Nov. 25
The Rangers will conclude a back-to-back set when they face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow at Madison Square Garden (2:00 p.m.), in their third game in four days. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and sixth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 11-5-3 (25 pts). The Rangers enter tomorrow's contest having defeated the Washington Capitals, 6-3, earlier today at Verizon Center, to snap their two-game losing streak. The Flyers enter the contest with a 13-6-3 (29 pts) record to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, and have won their last two games. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.), in an Atlantic Division matchup.
RANGERS PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Please note there is no morning skate scheduled prior to tomorrow's contest. Head Coach John Tortorella will be available to the media at 11:50 a.m. in the Press Conference Room, located on the fifth floor at Madison Square Garden.
* Schedule and availability subject to change
* TV: MSG Network
1:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig
2:00 p.m. - Rangers vs. Flyers
Broadcasters: John Giannone (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), Al Trautwig (In-Game Reporter)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
1:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show
2:00 p.m. - Rangers vs. Flyers
Broadcasters: Don LaGreca (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. FLYERS:
* All-Time: 110-107-37-7 overall (57-47-23-4 at home; 53-60-14-3 on the road)
* 2011-12: Tonight is the first of six meetings this season, and the first of three at Madison Square Garden.
* Last Season: New York was 2-4-0 overall, with a 1-2-0 mark at home. The Rangers power play was 4-19 (21.1%) in the season series. Ryan Callahan (four goals, one assist) and Derek Stepan (three goals, two assists) tied for the team-high with five points, while Callahan's four goals led the team. Henrik Lundqvist was 2-3-0 with a 2.57 GAA, .908 Sv% and one shutout in five games.
* The Rangers have won their last two games against the Flyers, out-scoring Philadelphia, 10-2, in those contests
* The Blueshirts won their last meeting at MSG, 7-0, on Mar. 6, 2011; the seven-goal spread tied the Rangers' season-high for largest margin of victory
* New York ranks 19th with a 5-1-1 (11 pts) record at home; Philadelphia ranks first with a 7-2-1 (15 pts) mark on the road
* The Rangers have posted a 1-1-0 record vs. Atlantic Division opponents; the Flyers are 2-0-1 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 16-10-3 record with a 2.75 GAA and three shutouts in 31 career regular season games vs. Philadelphia; Martin Biron is 9-7-2-0 with a 2.18 GAA in 18 career regular season games vs. the Flyers
* Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 23 assists and 30 points in 31 career regular season games vs. Philadelphia; Dan Girardi has tallied more assists/points (17 assists) against the Flyers than any other team during his career
* New York lists three former Flyers on their roster: Martin Biron (2006-07 - 2008-09); Steve Eminger (2008-09); Ruslan Fedotenko (2000-01 - 2001-02)
* Philadelphia lists four former Rangers on their roster: Jaromir Jagr (2003-04 - 2007-08); Jody Shelley (2009-10); Blair Betts (2005-06 - 2008-09); Ian Laperriere (1995-96)
* Power Play: The Rangers tallied one goal in five power play opportunities (6:38) yesterday at Washington. New York ranks 28th overall (10-79, 12.7%) and is tied for 13th at home (6-34, 17.6%). The Rangers are 1-7 (5:25) in five-on-three situations (last 11/23 at FLA), and 0-4 (3:46) when four-on-three (last 11/3 vs. ANA). Shorthanded goals allowed (0).
* Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts surrendered one goal to the Capitals in four shorthanded situations (5:12) yesterday at Washington. New York ranks 10th overall (67-79, 84.8%) and fourth at home (19-21, 90.5%). The Rangers are 2-3 (1:16) in three-on-five situations (last 11/05 vs. MTL), and 0-1 (1:17) when three-on-four (last 10/7 at LAK). Shorthanded goals for (1): 10/20 at CGY (Prust).
* Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (1:31) yesterday at Washington. The Rangers are plus-three in 26 four-on-four situations (45:13), and even in one three-on-three situation (0:01). Four-on-four goals for (3): 10/18 at VAN (Gaborik); 10/20 at CGY (McDonagh); 10/27 vs. TOR (Girardi). Four-on-four goals allowed (0).
The Rangers will conclude their third of 14 back-to-back sets this season when they face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers today at MSG. New York has posted a record of 2-0-1 (1-0-0 at home, 1-0-1 on the road) in the first game of the set, and are 1-0-1 (1-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the second game. Since 2009-10, New York is 22-8-3 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 10-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-5-2 on the road over the span.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Rangers 5-1-1 start through seven games at Madison Square Garden is their best start at home since they posted a record of 5-1-1 through seven home games to begin the 1992-93 season. New York began that season with a 7-1-1 mark through nine home games.
THE PUCK STOPS HERE
The Blueshirts lead the league in fewest total goals against, allowing 41 goals through 19 games, and rank fourth with a 2.16 GAA. Henrik Lundqvist has posted a record of 8-4-3 with a 2.18 GAA, .931 Sv% and one shutout, while Martin Biron is 3-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA, .937 Sv% and one shutout. Rangers goaltenders have combined to stop 93.1% of all shots faced, which ranks second in the NHL. Lundqvist's .931 Sv% ranks sixth in the league.
A BROADWAY HIT
The Rangers were credited with a season-high, 50 hits, on Wednesday at Florida. Brandon Dubinsky led all skaters and tied his career-high with 10 hits, while Ryan Callahan tied his season high with six hits. New York had 16 of 18 skaters register at least one hit, with eight recording three or more hits. The Rangers rank second in the NHL in average hits per contest (26.1).
IN THE BLACK
The Blueshirts rank third in the NHL with a plus-14 rating while skating at even strength. 23 of the 27 players who have skated for the Rangers this season have posted a plus or even rating. Ryan McDonagh leads the team and is tied for 13th in the NHL with a plus-11 rating. In the league standings, New York ranks sixth with a plus-11 goal differential.
The Rangers have tallied the game's first goal in 11 of their 19 contests this season, posting a record of 10-1-0 in those games. Their .909 winning percentage when scoring first ranks second in the NHL, while their 10 wins are tied for first in the league.
New York has seen nine new faces in their lineup during the 2011-12 season - Tim Erixon* (10/7 at LAK), Brad Richards (10/7 at LAK, one assist), Mike Rupp (10/7 at LAK), Jeff Woywitka (10/15 at NYI), Brendan Bell (10/22 at EDM), Andre Deveaux (10/31 vs. SJS), Anton Stralman (11/23 at FLA), Carl Hagelin* (11/25 at WSH, one assist), John Mitchell (11/25 at WSH, one assist). *NHL debut
COUNTDOWN TO 2,500 WINS
The Rangers are currently five wins shy of 2,500 wins, having won 2,495 games all-time in franchise history.
* The Rangers are currently tied with San Jose for the fewest regulation losses (five) in the NHL
* New York is 4-1-0 when leading after the first period, and 6-0-1 when leading after the second
* The Blueshirts are the only team in the NHL who are undefeated when out-shooting opponents, posting a 5-0-0 mark in those contests
* Carl Hagelin (NHL debut) and John Mitchell each recorded an assist on the game-winning goal while making their Rangers debut yesterday at Washington
* Henrik Lundqvist is 6-1-0 with a 1.99 GAA and a .931 Sv% in seven games during the month of November
* Marian Gaborik has tallied 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in the last 12 games
* Derek Stepan has recorded 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last 11 games
* Ryan Callahan has tallied 12 points (six goals, six assists) in the last 11 games, with seven points (two goals, five assists) in the last five
* Ryan McDonagh has recorded four assists and a plus-10 rating in the last eight games
* Dan Girardi has recorded nine points (three goals, six assists) in the last 13 games
* Brad Richards has registered five points (three goals, two assists) in the last five games
* Artem Anisimov has tallied eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the last eight games
MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
* Erik Christensen: 7 assists from 100th NHL career
* Steve Eminger: 8 points from 100th NHL career
* Marian Gaborik: 5 assists from 300th NHL career; 7 goals from 300th NHL career
* Dan Girardi: 6 assists from 100th NHL career
* Wojtek Wolski: 1 game from 400th NHL career; 9 goals from 100th NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Derek Stepan: 100th NHL game (11/23 at FLA)
* Carl Hagelin: 1st NHL game (11/25 at WSH)
* Marc Staal (concussion, IR on 10/5) - 19
* Mike Rupp (knee, 10/24) - 12
* Wojtek Wolski (groin, 11/3) - 8
Total Man-Games Lost: 48
* Nov. 24 - Recalled forward Carl Hagelin from Connecticut (AHL)
* Nov. 24 - Recalled forward John Mitchell from Connecticut (AHL)