Winless Flyers face tough matchup with Rangers

Flyers' Scott Hartnell during warm-ups on Thursday, January 19, 2012. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Flyers' Scott Hartnell during warm-ups on Thursday, January 19, 2012. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer) (Daily News/Inquirer)
Posted: January 24, 2013

As if they didn't have enough problems to overcome - injuries, a suspension, shoddy play from their special teams - the winless Flyers will host a New York Rangers team Thursday that they have not beaten in their last eight meetings.

The Flyers, who learned Wednesday that Brayden Schenn was suspended by the NHL for one game and that Scott Hartnell was out indefinitely with a foot injury, lost all six games to the Rangers last season and their last two matchups in 2010-11.

"I think it's in the back of our mind that we didn't get a win against them," winger Wayne Simmonds said after Wednesday's crisp practice in Voorhees. "So we have to go out and prove we're a good team here."

To do that, they will have to improve their special teams. They are just 1 for 15 on the power play, and their penalty-killing units have been successful on just 10 of 16 attempts.

The Flyers did make strides in their penalty killing in Tuesday's 3-0 loss in New Jersey. They killed six of seven power plays, including a lengthy 5-on-3 situation. The Devils' lone power-play goal was scored on a deflection off the Flyers' Ruslan Fedotenko.

After Tuesday's loss dropped the Flyers to 0-3 for the third time in franchise history, Simmonds called Thursday's game a "must win."

The Flyers have been outscored, 11-3.

"There's been talk about the bad bounces [the team is getting], and maybe that's the case, but I always thought you earned your luck," defenseman Nick Grossmann said. "So it's just back to basics. Play your system. Play it hard. Play for each other. When you do that, I think bounces come your way. It's not something you can sit around and wait for."

Grossmann said the Flyers "played better as a team" against New Jersey, "and we need more of that."

The Flyers dominated the first period but fell into a 2-0 hole. They became undisciplined and took too many penalties as the game progressed.

"You can't hang your heads or start pointing fingers," Grossmann said. "We're sticking together here as a group. We've got each other's backs. We've just got to put the work boots on and keep going. That's the only way out."

The Flyers are trying to avoid their first 0-4 start in franchise history.

"I think right now there's a little bit of frustration and a lack of confidence," said center Danny Briere, who has watched the first three games because of a wrist injury that will sideline him Thursday and perhaps beyond. "We're forcing plays a little too much."

"We have to make our own way," said coach Peter Laviolette, whose team will also miss injured winger Zac Rinaldo on Thursday. "It's not the start of the season we were looking for, and the only people who can fix it are the people in this room."

Briere said a win against the Rangers would "go a long way for our confidence" and get the Flyers to "calm down and start playing like we know we can."

A year ago, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist shut down the Flyers, winning all six starts while compiling a 1.83 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. Conversely, Ilya Bryzgalov was 0-3 with a 4.47 goals-against average and an .847 save percentage against the Rangers.

New captain Claude Giroux is not concerned about the Rangers' dominance over the Flyers last season.

"Last year is last year," he said. "We have a new team this year."

A new, battered team.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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