Rangers (34-38-9) at Flyers (41-26-14)
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
BROADCAST & STREAMING: NBC, NBCSports.com/live, 97.5 FM
KEY PLAYERS: For the Flyers, there are many ways for them to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoff. The easiest: Pick up at least a point Saturday against a Rangers team that is out of the playoff picture and in last place in the Metropolitan Division.
“It’s a great feeling, and the fact it comes down to the last game is even better,” winger Michael Raffl said. “It’s a great feeling (that) we don’t have to hope that someone else loses or wins, so you control your own destiny, and that’s all you can ask for at this point.”
The Rangers have lost eight of their last 10, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy for the Flyers. Remember, they lost Tuesday to an Islanders team that had dropped 16 of its last 19.
The Flyers hope Brian Elliott (2.73 goals-against average, .908 save percentage) shook off the rust in Thursday’s 4-3 win over Carolina. He was shaky in his first performance since Feb. 10.
“You guys step away from what you do for 7 1/2 weeks and try to come back and do it without a hiccup or two (and it’s difficult),” coach Dave Hakstol said.
Elliott will be opposed by Henrik Lundqvist (2.95, .915), who was beaten by the visiting Flyers, 7-4, as they torched the goalie and his inexperienced defense on Feb. 18.
The rebuilding Rangers will again play numerous players who have spent a significant amount of time in the AHL this season.
Mats Zuccarelllo (53 points), Mika Zibanejad (27 goals, 47 points), and Kevin Hayes (25 goals) lead the Blueshirts.
The Flyers are led by MVP candidate Claude Giroux, who entered Friday first in the NHL in assists (68), second in points (99), and third in faceoff percentage (58.6).
Jake Voracek (84 points), Sean Couturier (31 goals, 74 points), Shayne Gostisbehere (64 points), Travis Konecny (24 goals), and Wayne Simmonds (24 goals) are among the Flyers’ other weapons.
THINGS TO KNOW: Giroux, serenaded with MVP chants after he scored a critical goal Thursday, needs one point to become the first Flyer since Eric Lindros in 1995-96 to reach the century mark….The Flyers are 21-13-6 at home, and the Rangers are 13-22-5 on the road…..Hakstol is expected to use Raffl on the top line and Konecny on the third line. But if the Flyers get off to a slow start, look for Konecny to go to the top unit with Giroux and Couturier. In the last two games against the Rangers — the Flyers won both — Konecny and Giroux each have a total of five points…..If the Flyers lose by exactly two goals, and the Florida Panthers win their final two games in shootouts, the teams would be tied with 96 points and all of the tie-breakers would be deadlocked. That would cause the teams to have a play-in game Tuesday to determine who gets into the playoffs, the NHL announced.
HEAD TO HEAD: The Flyers are 2-1 vs. the Rangers this season. Overall, the Flyers hold a 124-122-37-9 advantage in the all-time series.
COMING FLYERS GAMES:
If the Flyers get into the playoffs, they will start Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the opponent.