Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rangers Look for Revenge against Carcillo, Flyers

By: Tim Brennan

These two teams are no strangers to heated rivalries; the Flyers have their cross state rivals in Pittsburgh and the Rangers are just across the river from their pals in New Jersey. In a way, the Flyers/Rangers rivalry is secondary but it doesn't fall short in terms of hatred towards one another. In my opinion, the fan bases of both these teams are tough on their teams when they play bad and don't sugarcoat their dislike for a call made by referees or opposing players. So it should be interesting to see how Ranger fans react when the teams converge on the Garden for a matinee game, especially after what happened the last time these two teams met.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, let me paint the picture:
During the last meeting on January 21st, a scuffle ensued during the second period of an already physical game. Players gathered around and picked a partner to trade shoves with and what would happen just heated up this rivalry. The Rangers star player, Marian Gaborik, was hovering around the net until Flyers pest Dan Carcillo came into the pile and chose the one player who didn't have anybody to grab onto... Gaborik. The two traded shoves and cross checks until finally they dropped the gloves and went at it.

Now this is where the story changes depending on each team's perspective. Flyers fans believe that Gaborik brought it upon himself when he was reluctant to drop the gloves and fight Carcillo when he didn't need to and could have had one of his own teammates take care of that if it was such a problem. The Rangers fans point of view was that Carcillo was just looking for a player to jump and is gutless because he purposely picked on Gaborik, who has only two fights in his entire hockey career. Either way, it paves the way for a compelling matchup this afternoon.

The Rangers added grit near the deadline when they acquired scraper Brandon Prust and enforcer Jody Shelley in separate trades which means that they will be aiming for Carcillo for some payback after the events that transpired on January 21st. It always is a physical matchup and there tends to be plenty of fights so watch for a lot of fisticuffs.

The Flyers have been a so so team lately, with too many close calls and barely winning games of late. Yesterday's win versus the Chicago Blackhawks was a good example of the Flyers picking up their game in the third to best one of the best teams in the league, with the game winner coming 2.1 seconds before the third period was over by Chris Pronger, who received an insane pass from Claude Giroux to tap it in. One of the bright spots during this stretch and the season has been goaltender Michael Leighton. Leighton, who was picked up off re-entry waivers in December, has been more than stellar since he took over the starting job and has been coming up with huge saves in pressure situations. One of the reasons why they have been able to stay into games that they are dominated by another team is because Leighton more or less stands on his head night after night.

The Rangers have been on a losing skid, having dropped 12 of their last 20, resulting in the Blueshirts looking from the outside of the playoff picture in. If they want to stay in the playoff picture, a win today would help give them a win streak and could allow them to continue their success in playing their way into the playoffs. Friday's victory over the Atlanta Thrashers was profound and an example of when all the pieces come together to provide a valiant effort. As long as the Rangers play their system and don't listen to yelling enthusiast/coach John Tortarella then they can mold together and bring consistency. Just like Leighton, Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist has shined and the latter part of the season is usually when he's at his best.

No matter what the outcome is or which team comes out on top, this game will be the most exciting of the day and a must see.

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