Wayne Simmonds scored the lone Flyers goal in a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last Thursday. The Flyers have lost four straight games and have scored just 11 goals in eight games this season. Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com
If there is one team that the Flyers may welcome more than any to Wells Fargo Center, it's the New York Rangers.
The Rangers sit at 2-5-0, just two points above the Flyers. The Flyers, trying to erase a four-game winning streak, are stuck on one win at 1-7-0.
These two struggling teams can attribute the slow starts to aspects of the game that usually shine. For the Flyers, the lack of scoring has been brutal, even moreso than in recent seasons. For the Rangers, a usually reliable goalie has been dealing with a lack of confidence.
As a result, Henrik Lundqvist, who is also battling a minor injury, will not dress for Thursday's game. Instead, rookie goalie Cam Talbot will make his NHL debut.
The Flyers haven't had many struggles at all from the netminder. Steve Mason, making his seventh start of the season on Thursday, has a 2.37 GAA and .923 save percentage.
The Flyers also gain one of their few scorers back. As a team, the Flyers have just 11 goals total in eight games. Three of them are by Tye McGinn, two more are by Brayden Schenn and three more are by defensemen. One of the other goal-scorers is Vincent Lecavalier.
Lecavalier, out with an injury for the past week, makes his return to the lineup on Thursday. Teammate Scott Hartnell, injured in the same game on Oct. 11, is still out of the lineup despite practicing each of the previous two days.
The Rangers are also struggling to score goals. In seven games, the Rangers are 2-5-0 and have just eight goals from players in the active lineup. They are led by Brad Richards who has half of the goal total at four.
New York is a battered team, playing without three of their key players. Forwards Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin are all out with long-term injuries. Callahan has three goals and Nash has three assists on the season.
Several of the Rangers leading in point totals for the team are not goal-scorers. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard are second and third on the team in points with five and four respectively. All nine combined points are assists.
The Flyers and Rangers meet for the first of four times on the 2013-14 season on Thursday. In five meetings in 2013, the Rangers won the season series, 3-2-0.
Two notable Flyers in search of their first points of the season are Matt Read and Kimmo Timonen. Read was one of many Flyers to express this week that he could be better and Timonen was recently demoted on the power-play unit due to lack of performance.
Among the players vocalizing the need to be better were Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux. Voracek and Giroux have just three points apiece on the season, all assists. Voracek admitted a lack of confidence in the early-season struggles, and Giroux proclaimed the Flyers would still make the playoffs despite the slow start, assuming an advancement in his play moving forward.
Both teams are coming off long breaks. The Flyers have not played since last week against the Penguins. The Rangers have been off since Saturday.
Milestones: Flyers defenseman Mark Streit is playing in his 500th NHL game tonight.
Flyers Scratches: Scott Hartnell, Hal Gill, Andrej Meszaros
Flyers Projected Lineup
Line 1: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Vincent Lecavalier
Line 2: Tye McGinn-Brayden Schenn-Jake Voracek
Line 3: Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Line 4: Zac Rinaldo-Max Talbot-Adam Hall
D-Pair 1: Kimmo Timonen-Erik Gustafsson
D-Pair 2: Nick Grossmann-Braydon Coburn
D-Pair 3: Mark Streit-Luke Schenn
Goalie: Steve Mason