09 April 2010
The Rangers are composed of one awesome goal machine, one awesome goal stopper and a bunch of interchangeable parts. That's why for the most part this year, they've been on the outside looking in. There is plenty to hate about New York, and rightfully so, (this is the Rangers we're talking about) starting with their coach, John Tortarella all the way to their fourth liners like Aaron Voros. Über pest Sean Avery will not play in these final two games. That might be a blessing, considering how much he got under the Flyers skin their last meeting. With Avery out, expect Voros and Brandon Prust to take over as the guys trying to stir the pot. Henrik Lundqvist is a very solid goalie, who thrives playing on home ice. I still don't believe their defense is any good, so it'll be up to Hank to stand on his head. If the Flyers can capitalize on their powerplays and control the play, then their defense will crumble, leaving just Hank back there. The thing with good goalies is that they can steal games for you, and Lundqvist is certainly capable of doing so tonight and Sunday.
Speaking of goalies, perhaps the most important player on the ice tonight is Brian Boucher. Boosh has looked solid in three straight games, even going so far as willing us to victory against the Leafs in that 2-0 shutout. Philly's fate rests firmly on his shoulders. What we need from Boosh is to give the Flyers a chance. I look at Lundqvist and see a guy that needs to be brilliant, whereas Boucher simply needs to play a good game. Yes, the standings factor into this, but Boucher is a smaller piece of the Flyers machine than Lundqvist is to a Rangers squad who has trouble at times remembering to score.
Another person of importance for the Flyers is no other than Jeff Carter. Will he go or not? 19 days ago, he broke his foot, so if he does go, expect him to see limited ice time. He'll be an offensive zone player, and probably nothing more than that. We missed his snipe, and anytime you can add #17 to your lineup, you're making yourself better. I don't agree that Ville Leino should sit, but I also don't think you can take Aaron Asham out of the lineup with the way he's been playing. The odd man out, much like the entire season, is Scott Hartnell. It's hard to bench a guy like Harts, and he won't be, but its hard to take a dynamic player like Leino out for Hartnell. All that changes if Harts has one of those wrecking-ball, muckin' n' grindin' type of games where the Rangers are only focused on him. Keep your eye on Hartnell tonight, as a bad performance could have him be a healthy scratch come Sunday. Panotch had this to say on Twitter: "If I am coach...I don't play carter. If flyers win I don't play him till playoffs. If loss I play him sunday" Good point by Timmy P.
The third and final Flyer to watch tonight is Mike Richards. I believe he has to be our MVP in the final two games. For us to win, he has to be our motor. The "lead by example" saying takes on a new meaning when you're playing for something so close to your face. He'll match up against Gaborik and Dubinsky most of the night. He'll be needed in all three zones, and I think Mike Richards goes the fuck off tonight. The guy know what's at stake, and Cap'n will make sure to have his team up and ready. I don't think he fights Dubinsky, unless he has to. I do think he lights that fucker up for a multiple point night.
Some other points of interest that I leave you with to think about before the most important game of the season.
- Larry Brooks article bluntly saying that Pronger is splitting up the Flyers lockerroom. Seems like that clown was trying to plant some seeds of doubt before this weekend's battle eh? Timing on this article is strange though right? Another article by someone who doesn't know what he's talking about. That's like me writing up an article on Star Wars villian's because I don't know anything about that subject....really.....I swear. (Boba Fett FTW)
- Conspiracy theorist: Which market does the NHL want in the second season? The giant, 8 million people of NYC, or the smaller market of Philly? Both get large television stats, and will make for compelling matchup's with any other Eastern Conference foe, but...do the whistles blow harder for one team or the other?
- I have a special kind of hate for the Rangers. Is there another team that could be filled with such Hall of Famers that you actively despised? I hated Messier there, hated Gretzky, Big Eric Lindros too. Every superstar this team gets pollutes that player's image and make them look like that purple lipped centaur, Alex Rodriguez.
We need two points, any possible way. We get to do it against our rival, in their barn, and then close out the season at home. This weekend is the Hockey Gods way of blessing you. Two fan bases, worlds apart, separated by only 90 miles. Two teams, desperately trying to control their fate while establishing confidence within themselves for the playoffs. This will be a bloody chess match, a battle for everything, with no tomorrow to think about. It will be loud and crazy. It will be agonizing and stressful. It will be everything we want when we watch the Flyers. It's New York and Philadelphia. The only fitting way for this crazy season to end. Let's Go Flyers.
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