Flyers shoot for a rare Garden party

Posted: March 27, 2014

BROADWAY is filled with comedies, musicals and operas. For the Flyers, though, it's been all horror shows.

It's been more than three Wicked years since the Flyers walked out of Madison Square Garden with a win. For the record, the last victory was Feb. 20, 2011. For context, please note that Darroll Powe assisted on Dan Carcillo's game-winning goal and Brian Boucher was in net.

Mamma Mia!

It's easy to see why the Flyers get a little thorn in their sides whenever they have to pack for Manhattan. Given that a single point separates them in the current standings adds just a little more Grease to the bonfire.

"We're going to try to set a tone so that if we do happen to play them in the playoffs, then they're definitely going to know what we're about," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said. "At home, we've played good against them. We got pucks deep and didn't make too many fancy plays in the neutral zone and we played physical."

The Flyers have won three in a row against the Blueshirts at the Wells Fargo Center, but the last seven up at MSG have been nothing but Les Miserables. If the playoffs started today, New York would have the home-ice advantage in a first-round series against the Flyers. Philadelphia, however, does have two very important games in hand.

"It's a tough building," said captain Claude Giroux, one of the few current Flyers who have won a game in New York. "I don't know what it is about it, but we'll have to make sure the first period is our best period and then go from there."

Look for Steve Mason to be back in net after resting on Monday night. Ray Emery was solid, not spectacular, in the 3-2 loss to the Kings that ended the Flyers' five-game winning streak. And Emery was in net in January's loss in New York. Mason beat the Rangers in the two games in Philadelphia.

"You want to get up for the big games and the Rangers are definitely one of our biggest rivals," said Mason, who lost a pair of starts at Madison Square Garden while with Columbus. "It's pretty easy to get up for them."

The Rangers have kept pace with the Flyers by winning their last four contests and five of six. They are 7-3-1 since acquiring Martin St. Louis at the trade deadline, though St. Louis has not scored a goal in those 11 games.

"We're going to play hard, but we've also got to play smart," Flyers coach Craig Berube warned. "We've got to be disciplined. They've got a lot of good players over there and you don't want to give them a lot of power plays. We need to be a hard team to play against, but we have to be smart."

The Flyers beat the Rangers on March 1 in a game delightfully sprinkled with gamesmanship and animosity between Flyers agitator Zac Rinaldo and Carcillo, his Rangers' counterpart who had that game-winning goal 3 years ago.

"We're going to try to set the tone," said Simmonds, who has seen A Chorus Line of only losses in his eight career games at Madison Square Garden. "If we do happen to play them in the playoffs, they're definitely going to know what the Philadelphia Flyers are bringing to the table."

Ice cubes

Forward Sean Couturier and defenseman Nick Grossmann were given the day off from yesterday's practice. Steve Downie, who suffered an apparent head injury on Saturday, also did not skate. Youngster Tye McGinn played a shade under 8 minutes on Monday and Craig Berube said he'd like to give the kid some more ice time . . . Vinny Lecavalier played 14 seasons and won a Stanley Cup with Martin St. Louis in Tampa Bay. He said seeing his former teammate in a Rangers jersey will be unusual. "It was weird playing against him when he was with Tampa, but in [another] different jersey, it's going to be weird." . . . The Rangers start a rather inconvenient four-game West Coast trip on Friday. The Flyers' only remaining game outside the Eastern time zone is Tuesday at St. Louis - the city, not the Rangers player.

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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