Game Sixty-One, the New York Rangers at the Philadelphia Flyers
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Confirmed Starting Goaltenders: Cam Talbot vs Steve Mason
Tonight's road game will give the Rangers an opportunity to push their winning streak to five games, their games with points streak to eleven games (8-0-2 in the last ten games), and to sweep the season series against their bitter rivals; the Flyers. If you're a Ranger or a Rangers fan you shouldn't need a lot of help getting ready for this game. It doesn't matter where these two teams are in the standings or who they are dressing or missing from their lineups, when they go head-to-head it makes for some nasty, entertaining, and often pinball-score hockey. Is that what we will see tonight in Philadelphia? Or will the Rangers once again get to chant "you can't beat us" to themselves in sports bars all over New York and watch the Blueshirts close out the month of February with yet another win?
The Rangers' defensemen will have to do everything they can to keep Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek in check (that must be fun to read). Cam Talbot has shown some lack of confidence and stability in recent games despite being in net for all but one of the games of this ten game point streak. Henrik Lundqvist's return date is still a question mark, he will be re-evaluated in the upcoming week. For the time being the Rangers are going to need to continue to ride Cam Talbot as their starter which means that Cam has to get a better grip on his game and do as much as he can to give the players in front of him a little bit more confidence. Admittedly, a lot of the failings of the Rangers' defensive efforts lately have been the responsibility of the guys who did not play their college hockey at Alabama, but there have been some soft goals scored on Talbot lately who has never faced a workload at the professional level anything like this. A better effort from the Blueshirts in the transition game, in their own zone, and on the backcheck would be an encouraging thing to see as February comes to a close.
The New York Rangers' February Schedule
2/2 Panthers at the Rangers, 7:00 PM(win.) 2/4 Bruins at the Rangers, 8:00 PM(win.) 2/7 Rangers at the Predators, 3:00 PM(loss.) 2/8 Stars at the Rangers, 5:00 PM(overtime loss.) 2/10 Rangers at the Leafs, 7:30 PM(I guess it was a win) 2/12 Rangers at Avalanche, 9:00 PM(win.) 2/14 Rangers at Coyotes, 8:00 PM(win.) 2/16 Rangers at Islanders, 7:00 PM(Win!) 2/19 Canucks at Rangers, 7:00 PM(overtime loss.) 2/20 Rangers at Sabres, 7:00 PM(win.) 2/22 Blue Jackets at Rangers, 7:30 PM(SO win.) 2/24 Flames at Rangers, 7:00 PM(win.) 2/26 Coyotes at Rangers, 7:00 PM(win.)
2/28 Rangers at Flyers, 8:00 PM
Mike's Player to Watch: Mats Zuccarello
How can I not pick Zuke? I know he was my player to watch last game too but I won't be able to not watch every move he makes for all kinds of reasons. Zuke always plays hard because his heart takes up about 60% of his body mass, but I would expect him to try and make a statement in tonight's game to either the Rangers or, and it pains me to write this, the other teams with designs on a deep playoff run. When Zuke is on the ice good things happen for the Rangers and especially his linemates. In the three previous games against Philly this season Zuke was held scoreless. I have a gut feeling that is going to change tonight. Go get 'em Zuke. We love you.
Let's go Rangers. Drop the puck. Let's take these points.