NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, October 24th
(All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (2-5-0) at Philadelphia Flyers (1-7-0), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling division rivals meet Thursday in
the City of Brotherly Love, as the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York
Rangers in a Metropolitan Division clash at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers and Rangers had a long-standing rivalry as members of the old
Atlantic Division, but Thursday's contest is the first between the clubs since
they joined the Metropolitan Division as part of the NHL's realignment plan
for the 2013-14 season.
The Rangers won three of five meetings against the Flyers last season, but
Philadelphia claimed two of the three encounters on its home ice. New York has
won 11 of the past 13 overall matchups in this series.
The two rivals are currently occupying the bottom two spots in the division,
as the 2-5-0 Rangers are two points ahead of the last-place Flyers, who are
1-7-0 and off to the worst start in franchise history.
Philadelphia has lost four straight in regulation since winning its only game
of the season on Oct. 8 against visiting Florida. However, the Flyers enter
Thursday's game well rested, having not played since last Thursday's 4-1 home
setback against Pittsburgh.
Wayne Simmonds scored the only goal for Philadelphia in last Thursday's loss.
As a team, the Flyers have managed only 11 goals this season. Steve Mason
continued his solid play in net, making 31 stops for Philadelphia.
Philly hopes to get a boost Thursday from the probable return of forward
Vincent Lecavalier, who has sat out the last three games with a lower-body
issue. Lecavalier, a natural centerman, played right wing alongside centerman
Claude Giroux at practice on Tuesday and he could take on that role if he's
able to go Thursday against the Rangers.
"It was my first time in my career that I played the wing," Lecavalier told
the Flyers official website after Tuesday's practice. "But, I'm really
comfortable on the right side and I feel there are more plays I can do playing
on the off wing. Playing with (Claude Giroux), he's a special player. He's a
guy who can get you the puck. I thought things went well today."
Lecavalier, who signed a five-year deal with Philadelphia over the summer, has
one goal and two assists in five games. Giroux has three assists, but has yet
to score a goal in eight contests.
Flyers winger Scott Hartnell, who also has missed the last three games with an
upper-body injury, has been skating but is questionable for Thursday.
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen (lower body) also is questionable for tonight.
Meanwhile, the Rangers, who are already missing captain Ryan Callahan (broken
thumb) and top offensive weapon Rick Nash (concussion), will be forced to play
without star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on Thursday.
Lundqvist is suffering from an undisclosed injury and was coming off a poor
performance in New York's last game, a 4-0 setback Saturday against New
Jersey. The former Vezina Trophy winner allowed the Devils to score four goals
on just 19 shots.
"I just need to come up with more saves and give the team a little more
confidence," a dejected Lundqvist said after the loss to the Devils. "It's
tough to get the game going as a team when you fall behind like that."
With Lundqvist's former backup Martin Biron having announced his retirement
earlier this week, rookie goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to make his NHL
debut on Thursday. Jason Missaien has been recalled from Hartford of the AHL
to serve as Talbot's backup.
The Rangers are nearing the end of an epic, season-opening nine-game road
trip. After tonight's tilt in Philadelphia, New York will head to Detroit on
Saturday before finally playing its first game of the season at the newly
renovated Madison Square Garden on Tuesday against Montreal.
10/24 10:51:12 ET