New York Rangers @ Philadelphia Flyers Pregame
Is everyone wondering how this game will go? Well, it is better if the game is discussed first. Rangers are winless in their last 5 games only scoring 4 goals, and the Flyers are the hot team here. Rangers cold, Flyers hot, my guess is a 5-2 game for the Flyers. Then, there is the discussion on Lindros.
Anyway, the Rangers had a very rough road trip. They started it very well but injuries and Fleury’s problem didn’t help the team all that much. The Rangers need that spark that they had in November, where they played very aggressive and threw many hits. After watching the Flyers outmuscle the Devils, the Rangers must play their aggressive style. Lindros will not end up playing aggressive and all he wants is to just score a goal, but mostly win the game. Messier is still injured, but he had a serious talk with the team, since they lacked that toughness they had. Malakhov has to crush opponents against the boards (leading the team in hits). Kloucek has to transform into his brick wall phase and deck opponents hard. Fleury will have to keep his cool and try to draw penalties. Basically, the Rangers will have to play a rough and good fore-checking game. The way to create scoring chances comes from the defensive zone. Rangers must play carefully in defense, and keep it a tight checking game. The Rangers must also win face offs. In the game against the Kings, the Rangers allowed 3 out of the 4 goals against by losing draws. In this case, the number of shots do not matter as much as quality chances. Rangers have created many quality chances in the past games, but they never finish.
Flyers are starting to play better physically. I was unimpressed when watching Richardson, LeClair, and Recchi. They just skate around the ice and the puck slides between their skates. The defense is really doing well for the Flyers. As I mentioned before, defense always starts a good offense. Weinrich has 5 assists in the last 4 games, and yes that does make a difference creating 5 goals in 4 games. Roenick is piling up with his assists (29) which I expected it from Recchi. Brashear has added a lot of toughness on this team, and I was surprised by how the Flyers outmuscle the Devils. Ranngers cannot let that happen. The Flyers are hot, Cechmanek now being the hot goalie, but Boucher should get the start Saturday night. One thing I noticed the Flyers do is play with a lot of pressure on the opponent. Now that strategy I love to watch. It is not a boring defensive style, trying to block the whole neutral zone, but I kept seeing Primeau, Recchi, and Roenick always pinching in and block passes. Since the Rangers are very offensive minded and carry the puck in the attack, they must watch out for turnovers. Although Richter is probably the best goaltender when it comes to breakaways or even a 2 on none, there needs to be a defenseman staying back. Rangers used to be much better taking each other’s position, especially when Leetch moves up, someone has to take cover of Leetch’s original spot. The Flyers will play tough, with a lot of pressure. The Rangers will start slow in the game, maybe having 2 first good shifts, and then learn the Flyers style and try to crack it. Rangers should have a strong 3rd period, but they cannot afford to play a full sloppy period. Another note, the Flyers must take advantage on the Rangers in special teams. If the Flyers are shorthanded, then all they have to do is block the blue line and put pressure. If the Flyers are on the PP, then the best way to beat the Rangers is to shoot from the points. I never understood Low’s strategy to let the opposing team set up and then try to intercept a pass, which means no pressure put on the opponent. This game should have a lot of penalties, but hopefully the referees will call it a fair game.
On with Lindros. I like the way Eric makes no big deal out of these events. He knows how to handle the media extremely well. Looking at the NY Daily News, Lindros quotes “You play in a city for eight or nine years and you certainly grow attached to a number of different things,” Lindros said. “Yeah, it’s going to be nice to get back and see some friends and play some hockey.”
Roenick is never smart when talking to the media, like saying, “An anonymous guy said if you want to make yourself a folk hero in Philadelphia, one hit will do it,” a smiling Roe-nick said Wednesday. “I didn’t say it. I just heard it.” I mean, it is not such an intelligent comment. So does it mean he will try to get Lindros? I think he will attempt since Lindros decked him hard last game.
Then, Lindros comes with another smart comment, “I don’t foresee it,” Lindros said. “I don’t foresee it at all. The issue I had was with (GM) Bob Clarke and (owner) Ed Snider; it wasn’t through our dressing room.” He is making it simple for the media to understand that questions on his former teammates will be unanswered.
This was the best quote, with a lot of class and respect said by Rick Tocchet, “If we have a guy in this room who is going to try to knock him out, I don’t want him as a teammate.” First of all, if you want to knock anyone out very hard, you must be sick minded to do it on purpose. Second, Tocchet shows respect for Eric whether he hates him or not. It is already upsetting to hear that my favorite player (Forsberg) might never return to the NHL, there goes some beautiful talent out the window. Lindros has a beautiful talent, he is good. Anyone who would want him retire with a concussion is very foolish, because hockey fans look for talent; we enjoy watching the talent, so why see it go out the window? No real reason. I think the Flyers players will tend to irritate Lindros and the only players who I would not trust would be McGillis, Brashear, and Fedoruk, especialy Brashear though. Concussion body checks are unnecessary. I think Lindros will get “booed” which would be a shame to hear the boos after all the hard work he put for the team, making players like LeClair and Recchi better. Why even bother booing him? I bet that if Lindros gets knocked out in tomorrow’s game, a lot of fans would cheer, which would only leave me disgusted, as disgusted as Tocchet would be.