Flyers vs. Rangers Preview
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While Sunday's meeting may not possess the same immediate urgency, a loss for the Rangers would be another hit to their fading stance among postseason contenders.
New York looks to beat Philadelphia for the first time in five games when they face off Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Flyers -120 money line favorites for Sunday's game against the Rangers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 57% of more than 1,404 bets for this game have been placed on the Rangers +111.
The Rangers (31-25-4) fell to 2-6-1 in their last nine games with a 1-0 loss to New Jersey on Friday and have been held to two or less goals in five of the last seven. Once contending for home-ice advantage in the first round in the Eastern Conference playoffs, New York has slipped in the standings and is 15 points back of the first-place Flyers.
Marian Gaborik had a four-goal game Jan. 19, but has only two in 12 games since. Leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky had his four-game point streak snapped against the Devils.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves but fell to 2-4-1 with a 3.00 goals-against average in his last seven starts. He didn't get much offensive support, as the Rangers finished with a season-low 15 shots.
"We were a step slow all night long in their zone, in the neutral zone, and defending in our end zone," coach John Tortorella told the team's official website. "It was especially so in the first two periods. The third period I thought we were a little bit better."
Lundqvist has dropped a pair of 4-1 decisions to Philadelphia this season Nov. 4 and Dec. 18. Martin Biron lost 3-2 in the most recent meeting Jan. 16, allowing a goal to Flyers captain Mike Richards.
However, Richards' status for Sunday is uncertain after sitting out Philadelphia's 3-2 defeat to Carolina with flu-like symptoms. It was the first game he's missed in almost two full years.
Coach Peter Laviolette had already turned in the team's lineup sheet which included Richards, who made a last-minute decision not to play. The Hurricanes scored two goals within the first seven minutes and the Flyers never recovered.
"It happened that fast," Laviolette said of Richards' absence. "We were juggling (lines) a little bit at the beginning there."
Philadelphia still has a solid lead atop the East despite the loss. Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves but has lost three of five starts after going 6-0-0 with a 1.83 GAA from Jan. 11-25.
Former Ranger Blair Betts scored his first goal since Nov. 4 and Braydon Coburn tied the game in the third period with his second of the season. However, the Flyers allowed the winner with just over three minutes remaining.
Nikolay Zherdev was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game despite Richards being out of the lineup. Zherdev, who spent the 2008-09 season with New York, has three goals this season against his former team.
Philadelphia has won four straight and six of the last eight meetings, but the Rangers have won four of the past six matchups at MSG.