Philadelphia Flyers (38-26-7) at New York Rangers (40-29-4)
|Date & Time||Wednesday March 26, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: New York Rangers -152 / Philadelphia Flyers +138 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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Henrik Lundqvist received a pregame ceremony prior to Monday night's contest with the Phoenix Coyotes honoring him for becoming the New York Rangers' all time wins and shutout leader. It was a much deserved ceremony for the man who will be the difference in how far the Rangers go this season, but New York did not respond to start the match. The Rangers came out lifeless and watched as the Coyotes skated circles around them, jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead. It was not the type of first period head coach Alain Vigneault was looking for from his club in a game that had this much significance in the standings. Luckily the Rangers found their legs between periods and came out in the second with some jump. Brad Richards deflected a Carl Hagelin shot passed Mike Smith and got New York on the board. The Rangers kept coming and had all the momentum after Derick Brassard tied the game at 2-2. It looked like New York would get the next goal but a couple of bad plays by Chris Kreider led to him deflecting the puck between Lundqvist's legs and put the Coyotes back in front heading to the third. New York played a strong final 20 minutes but with Phoenix shutting things down defensively it appeared the Rangers wouldn't find the equalizer. That was until Dan Girardi parked himself in front of the net and deflected a Ryan McDoangh shot to even the game and send the teams to overtime. McDonagh finished it off with his third point of the night to lift the Rangers to the 4-3 overtime victory. The win helps give the Rangers a little breathing room and right now it's looking like Wednesday night's contest might be a preview of a first round playoff match up between the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. For that reason alone this game means a lot because both of these teams want home ice advantage. Though New York has been a better road team this year they've completely owned the Flyers at Madison Square Garden in recent years, so securing home ice has to be something they're striving for.
Philadelphia finally saw their run come to an end on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. After winning five straight games against some very difficult opponents the Flyers couldn't get by Jeff Carter and Jonathan Quick. Carter got the Kings on the board with an early second period goal and Justin Williams made it a two goal lead late in the period. But the Flyers, who have been resilient all season long, fought back in the final frame to even the game. Matt Read scored his 20th goal of the season just 29 seconds into the third period and Jakub Voracek tied the game with his 20th later on. That would last just over two minutes when the Kings converted an odd man rush to take the lead for good on their way to a 3-2 win. Philadelphia allowed 41 shots on goal in this one and weren't nearly as good defensively as they've been during this stretch. Now they'll head to a house of horrors for them when they travel to Madison Square Garden looking to jump back ahead of the Rangers for second place in the division. Philadelphia has two games in hand on New York heading into Wednesday night's affair so a victory for the visitors would go a long way toward securing home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia not only struggles at Madison Square Garden, but most of the time they're not even competitive. The Flyers have lost seven straight games in there and at some point they need to get the monkey off their back. Excpect Philadelphia to try and bully around a softer, less physical Rangers club in this one. If they can do that and get the Rangers to retaliate and play their game they should have the upper hand here.
These two are evenly matched and with both teams playing well it's a little surprising to see the line slanted this much in the Rangers favor. With the way New York plays Philadelphia at home it's understandable to give them an edge, but this is a little much.