The New York Rangers have rallied around the injury that captain Ryan McDonagh suffered after being sucker punched by Wayne Simmonds.
New York Rangers (31-18-6, 68 points, 2nd in NHL Metropolitan Division)
Philadelphia Flyers (24-20-10, 58 points, 7th in NHL Metropolitan Division)
Tonight, 7:30 PM on NBCSN
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
By Chris Wengert
Losing your captain to a cheap shot is never a good thing, especially when it’s New York Rangers’ defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has been public enemy number one ever since he clocked McDonagh in the jaw while he was defenseless.
Did he mean it? To be honest, who cares, because he is going to get no love on this Valentines Day.
The Rangers are coming off of a tough overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings in which they came back from a two goal deficit to eventually go ahead 4-3.
But that 2014 LA luck returned after the puck took a strange bounce and forced overtime. The rest is history.
But the Rangers still earned a very important point Friday night, which sets the stage for today.
Flyer+Rangers= Old time hockey.
The rivalry has been quiet for the past couple of years, but with one punch that has all changed. So how should the Rangers show their love on Valentine’s Day?
With some serious scoreboard revenge.
Tanner Glass hinted that he will be looking for some justice, but street justice would be foolhardy at best.
Derick Brassard agrees with that notion:
Brassard said of Simmonds hit on McDonagh “We’re not OK with it,” notes Mac is still out but adds “we can’t be focusing on Wayne Simmonds.”
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) February 14, 2016
Tonight’s game is the perfect bounce-back opportunity for the Blueshirts, who have strung together five games where they earned nine out of a possible 10 points.
Henrik Lundqvist, who is back to his reliable ways, will get the nod tonight.
So DZ won’t face Rangers tomorrow. Goalie matchup expected to be Lundqvist vs. Mason https://t.co/y94M5F2jOz
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) February 13, 2016
Ranger’s Keys To Victory
The Flyers are at their best when they are able to frustrate their opponents by taking cheap shots and using their physicality. The Flyers are not as talented or fast as the Rangers, but if the Blueshirts are lured into finding revenge, everything could be turned upside down.
Quick In The Middle
The Flyers have done a great job of neutralizing the Rangers transition game in the neutral zone. The neutral zone transition game is how the Rangers gain their speed and are able to establish their fore check.
This all starts with the Rangers protecting the puck in their own zone which is something they struggled with against the Penguins. If the Rangers can protect the puck, execute a smooth breakout, and then establish the transition game, they will have a huge advantage tonight.
If the Rangers are able to score the first goal then all of the revenge talk will be taken out of the equation.
While I would love to see Tanner Glass drop the mits with Wayne Simmonds as much as the next guy, it would only play into the Flyers game.
Early success, whether it be a goal or establishing a strong fore check, will greatly increase the Ranger’s chances of victory.
Quick note: If you are going to the game tonight, the Rangers will be wearing their white jerseys, just in case it affects your wardrobe.