Monday, February 8, 2016

Flyers Welcome Brief Breather

By Marc Narducci

Flyers Welcome Brief Breather

The Flyers´ Zac Rinaldo, top, and the Rangers´ Tim Erixon fight for the puck in the Flyers´ loss on Friday. (Henny Ray Abrams/AP)
The Flyers' Zac Rinaldo, top, and the Rangers' Tim Erixon fight for the puck in the Flyers' loss on Friday. (Henny Ray Abrams/AP)

By Marc Narducci

NEW YORK -- The Flyers will have off on Saturday and Sunday before returning to practice on Monday as they get ready to conclude this interrupted five-game road trip.

The entire team welcomes the break.

Yet the New York Rangers had just as much reason to show fatigue. It sure seemed as if New York did wear down in third period but the Rangers still had enough energy to beat the Flyers 4-2.

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This was the Rangers fourth game in seven days, and the second of a back-to-back. New York impressively has won all four of those games, 3-2 in Phoenix, 4-1 at New Jersey and 4-2 on Thursday at home against the New York Islanders

And while the Flyers talked afterwards about the Rangers getting the benefit of some bounces on the first two goals, which were wide of the net until tipped in, there was no mention of the two times the Rangers hit the cross bar.

So this wasn’t a case of the Flyers outplaying New York but simply falling short. While the Flyers did create scoring chances, so did the Rangers.

And now this sets up the stage for what should be an interesting Winter Classic, Jan 2 at Citizens Bank Park.

“I think it builds for the Winter Classic,” said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Of course there is the immediate business first – road games at Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh before the Classic.

And while Laviolette acknowledges that the Flyers can’t look too far ahead, the next rematch with the Rangers is obviously something well within view.

“We’ve got a few games we need to take care of before that,” Laviolette said referring to the Winter Classic. “The Rangers are a good team. We’ve had a good year. It probably does add a little fuel.”

A little?

Friday’s game had plenty of scoring chances, good end-to-end action, a few fights thrown in and a Madison Square Garden crowd that showed tremendous passion.

Now the Flyers and Rangers are tied in points with 46, one behind Eastern Conference leader Boston.

As the standings show, there isn’t much that separates the Flyers and Ranger, although it says here that with Henrik Lundqvist gives the Rangers a big edge in goal.

The fact that the Flyers and Rangers have such competitive teams is good for the NHL and even better for area hockey fans. When New York and Philadelphia are both highly competitive teams, regardless of the sport, it doesn’t get much better from a local perspective.

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Inquirer Staff Writer
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