Philadelphia Flyers: Measuring stick weekend versus Rangers

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With a pair of critical games against the New York Rangers on tap this weekend, the Philadelphia Flyers are looking to stay hot.

They might be rolling, winners of four in a row, but the Philadelphia Flyers need to keep their foot on the gas as the archrival New York Rangers come calling this weekend for a twin bill.

The games at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday and MSG on Sunday represent the most important regular season meetings between these clubs since their “win and you’re in” classic on the final day of the 2010 regular season.

Let’s hope for some similar results with these games.

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The Flyers will no doubt face a challenge from a Rangers team who’s even hotter, as they’ve now run their own winning streak to five games after Thursday’s comeback win over Montreal. The Blueshirts have charged up the standings recently with an 9-1 record over their last 10 games, and they’re no doubt eager for a chance to bank four points at the expense of one of the teams they’re looking up at in the standings of the insanely competitive Metropolitan Division.

This weekend will also be “Take Two” for newest Flyers Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, both of whom looked a bit out of place in their first games with the Orange and Black on Tuesday. Still, they can be forgiven for the lack of adjustment time to their new surroundings and linemates after they came to the Flyers in separate trades just over 24 hours before. Now, with a game and a few practices with their new team under their belts, they’ll have to show that they belong in the Flyers’ regular forward group and not in the press box on a nightly basis.

The Rangers should come in with plenty of confidence thanks to their recent winning ways, though an ill-timed injury to surging rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin is a significant blow.

Shesterkin, who broke a rib in a car accident but thankfully wasn’t hurt any worse, has been fantastic on Broadway so far with a 9-1 record. Perhaps a Shesterkin vs. Carter Hart rivalry is one we’ll all be able to enjoy for the next decade, but it will have to wait until sometime after this home-and-home set.

Instead, the Flyers will likely get a heavy dose of Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes this weekend. Don’t let his off-putting numbers (3.11 GAA, .907 save % this season) fool you though. The handsome old man might still have enough left to take this surprising Rangers team to a level that nobody expected this year, at least until Shesterkin returns.

All of a sudden, things are looking great in New York. Look no further than their decision to retain Chris Kreider earlier this week and sign him to an extension rather than deal him away at the deadline. The Rangers are believing in themselves, and they are dangerous.

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It’s incumbent on the Flyers to hault that momentum and firm up their own place in the standings in the process. Buckle up, because we should all be in for two competitive and physical contests this weekend. Most encouragingly, Flyers/Rangers might finally mean something again. It’s been too long since that’s been the case.