Tonight the New York Rangers (20-18-5) host the Philadelphia Flyers (21-15-4) at MSG. After an unsuccessful three game Western Canada road trip, a return to MSG on Tuesday didn't help the Rangers get back in the win column, as they lost 5-3 to Tampa Bay. New York was within a game of the Eastern Conference lead on Dec. 1, but is 5-9-3 since and has fallen into a tie for last place in the Atlantic - one point behind the Flyers. The Rangers have won both meetings with Philadelphia this season, 2-0 on Nov. 5 and 4-3 in a shootout Nov. 15. The Rangers have won four straight and seven of eight versus the Flyers. The Flyers, who have won 5 of 6, look to get four injured players back in the lineup tonight, as defenseman Jason Smith and forwards Simon Gagne, Sami Kapanen and Scottie Upshall all skated during Wednesday's practice. Antero Niittymaki, who will make his third straight start tonight, has won his last three starts, surrendering three goals over that span. For a full recap go to Yahoo! Sports.
...the Rangers need a win tonight, plain and simple. I don't care how they do it, they just need to win.
...hopefully the return of Gagne, Kapanen, Upshall and Smith will mess with the continuity the Flyers have built during its recent strong play.
...I'm also happy to see that Niittymaki is between the pipes, as, despite his recent strong play, I feel Biron is by far the superior goalie.
...if the loss on Tuesday to Tampa wasn't a wake up call for this team, then they should start booking their tee times for April now. I think they will respond and expect them to come out flying tonight.