Hank & His Army of Blueshirts March through Philly Tonight, 7:00 | Game Preview >

by Nick Arnold

Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 -

Date:   Result:   GWG:   Winning Goaltender:  
03/06/2011 PHI 0 @ NYR 7 Ryan Callahan   Henrik Lundqvist
04/03/2011  NYR 3 @ PHI 2  Erik Christensen   Henrik Lundqvist 
11/26/2011  PHI 0 @ NYR 2  Brad Richards  Henrik Lundqvist 
12/23/2011  PHI 2 @ NYR 4  Marian Gaborik  Henrik Lundqvist 
01/02/2012  NYR 3 @ PHI 2  Brad Richards  Henrik Lundqvist 
02/05/2012  PHI 2 @ NYR 5  Michael Del Zotto  Henrik Lundqvist 
02/11/2012  NYR 5 @ PHI 2  Ryan Callahan  Henrik Lundqvist 
04/03/2012  NYR 5 @ PHI 3  Ryan Callahan  Henrik Lundqvist 

Take a good look at those dates and final scores, friends, and sigh in disappointment with me. 

To say tonight's game is a pivotal one is an understatement. Without even thinking about our record against the Rangers the last two seasons, it's a no-brainer that our Flyers are in jeopardy of having a losing season if they can't get out of this winless skid they are in. This season is just over half the length of a regular NHL season. With only 45 games left, a team simply cannot afford to drop this many games in a row - especially to teams in our division. The Flyers have to turn things around, and fast.

People have said to me "Nick, you're being too pessimistic about this. The season has just begun. So the Flyers are off to a bad start. They'll turn it around. Still plenty of hockey to be played. Also, you're one sexy motherfucker." Under normal circumstances I would agree wholeheartedly. The problem is things are pretty far from normal right now.

Right out of the gate the Flyers have struggled in almost every aspect. The special teams play is atrocious, the offense can't seem to put together a full 60 minute effort, and the defense is lackluster at best. Our boys are 1-for-15 on the power play, and have allowed 1 shorthanded goal against them. 

That's correct. 

They've allowed as many goals on their own power play as they've scored while on the man-advantage.

As for the PK, they've allowed 6 goals on 16 power plays against them for a 62.5 penalty kill percentage. Being shorthanded 16 times in 3 games is bad enough, but allowing opponents to cash in on 6 of those chances is a recipe for losing games. Coach Laviolette needs to beat some discipline into his team. If he doesn't, expect the lamp behind Bryzgalov to be lit more often than Snoop Dogg

Overall, the Flyers have been out-scored 11 to 3 thus far in the season. Let that sink in for a second or two, but not much longer or you may become homicidal - like me - and feel the need to kick a puppy straight into the sun.

Now take that delicious pot of boiling failure and subtract Rinaldo, Schenn, Briere and Hartnell from at LEAST tonight's game and there's not much to be happy about. Hartnell - who got hit by a Timonen slap-shot in the Flyers' tilt vs. the Devils - is out indefinitely with an injury to his left foot. Rinaldo is out for at least a week with a thigh laceration. Briere is still recovering from a fractured left wrist with no definite timetable for his return. Lastly, Brayden Schenn has been suspended one game for his hit on Volchenkov on Tuesday night. 

Surely things can't get worse....

This brings us to our opponents tonight. 

Let's take a look back at that ugly list of game results at the top. That, my friends, is 8 straight losses to one of our biggest rivals - the New York Rangers. The Flyers have not beaten the Rags in almost 2 full calendar years, since February 20, 2011 in New York. That's 704 days. 704 days of obnoxious Rangers fans ragging on us. 

Get it? Rags fans? RAGGING on us?! I'll just tender my resignation now. 

In that span of 8 games, the Rangers outscored the Flyers 34 to 13 (24 to 11 last season) and our top scoring line of Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr were all a -4 in the +/- department. In the 6 games we lost last season, Lundqvist made 180 saves for a GAA of 1.83 and a SV% of .942, including one shut-out. You may now pick your jaws back up off the ground.

To make matters worse, the Rangers haven't lost in Philadelphia since December 18, 2010. You read that correctly. It's been over two years since we've had a win against them in our own barn. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Rangers also didn't have superstars Brad Richards or Rick Nash back then. With their added offense, many experts feel as if the team has finally added the final pieces to what will inevitably be a Stanley Cup Champion team.

I know, I know. I'm totally bumming everyone out here in my first article. Unfortunately, there's not much good to say when it comes to the Flyers vs. the Rangers these past couple of years. With all the problems the Flyers have had thus far in their 0-3-0 campaign, and the injuries/suspension to B. Schenn, it's hard to even come up with an answer to "How can the Flyers beat the Rangers tonight for the first time in almost 2 years?" The only way to really answer that is to look at the Rangers' start to their season and realize that they haven't been faring a whole lot better.

The Rangers are currently 1-2-0. While Lundqvist had a pretty decent game in their season opener at Boston, the Blueshirts failed to capitalize on chances - including a 5-on-3 in the 3rd period - and only mustered one goal in the tilt. They couldn't get their scoring game going. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for us) their next game showed us that King Henrik is, in fact, a mortal.  For the first time in a long time, Henrik Lundqvist was chased from the net just under halfway into the 2nd period after giving up 4 goals at the hands of the Penguins.

The good feelings stop there however as the Rangers finally found their game last night in an OT win against the same team that handed them a loss in the season opener: the Boston Bruins. Marian Gaborik had a hat trick in a 4-3 thriller.

So the question remains: how do we beat these Ragdolls?

There can be no uncertainty in what each player's role is anymore. Giroux can't make cute passes anymore. Our sophomores cannot succumb to the slump. There can be no weak link in our defense. And on top of everything, our young guns need to come out a-blazing and light some God damn lamps behind King Henrik and knock him down to Piss Boy Henrik.

Put G between Voracek and Simmonds. Voracek's puck control with Giroux's hands and Simmonds' net-presence could offer some interesting, positive results. Simmonds doesn't have the biggest frame, but don't tell that to him. He plays like a big, gritty forward and takes whatever spot of ice he wants.

Move Coots up to 2nd line center with Wellwood and Talbot on his wings. Speed and 2-way play resulting in quick setups and odd-man chances. Couturier and Talbot have had some chemistry in the past year. That chemistry continues tonight.

Put Laughton with McGinn and Read on the third line. Assuming Laughton isn't sent back to the Juniors this weekend, building chemistry between all our young players may not be an instant success, but will make our future look just that much brighter.

Fedotenko, Sestito and Shelley round out the 4th line to bully the Rangers around. Don't expect anything less from this group than to rough the Rags up and to (hopefully) punch Rupp's ugly mug so far into itself he shits it out in the penalty box.

The Flyers' current record isn't the end of the world, but if we can't capitalize on this chance to finally exorcise our demons and defeat the mighty Blueshirts to turn our season around, the rest of this season is going to be rough. So long as Captain G and the Philadelphia Flyers find the warriors within them and come out looking to win a fucking war tonight, the Flyers will have their first win of the season. But if they start 0 - 4 - 0 after tonight, it'd be the worst beginning to a season in franchise history. No pressure!


......we are so boned

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