In a season dotted with opponents’ winning streaks, the Rangers have set their sights on a modest one: four straight games.
“We’ve got the Flyers coming in and hopefully we can come up with a big effort on Wednesday to go into the [All-Star] break on a little run,” defenseman Dan Girardi said after the 3-2 defeat of the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden on Monday. “It’s a divisional game and we’re hoping to create some more space between them and us.”
The Rangers (31-16-1, 63 points) have been very resilient, regularly following defeats with a win and dropping three in a row just once, earlier this month. The Blueshirts haven’t been able to stitch together a lengthy stretch without a loss, though. They’ve only won four straight once — in early November — and that was five in a row.
But look around: All of the other top Metropolitan Division teams, the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild, and even the Flyers (23-19-6, 52) have gone undefeated for far longer.
Leading the pack has been the Blue Jackets, who won 16 straight, falling one short of tying the NHL record. The Capitals won nine consecutive games, the Penguins, seven. The Flyers took 10 in a row between Nov. 27 and Dec. 14. And the Wild won 12 straight between Dec. 4-29.
The Blueshirts have beaten the Flyers twice this season at Wells Fargo Center, 5-2 on Jan. 4 and 3-2 on Nov. 25, with Henrik Lundqvist and Steve Mason manning the nets. On Wednesday, however, Rangers center Kevin Hayes, who scored three goals in those matches, will be sidelined with a leg injury.
Mason is again expected to start for the Flyers (3-5-2 in their last 10). In his own three-game winning streak, Lundqvist has a 1.32 GAA and a .952 save percentage.
When the two goalies were matched up last season, the Rangers won three of the four games. The last Flyers win at the Garden was on Nov. 28, 2015, a 3-0 shutout with Antti Raanta in the nets.
Although the Blueshirts have tightened up defensively in the past three games, the power play hasn’t snapped out of a slump. The Rangers are 2-for-22 and scoreless in the last 11 opportunities.
“Certainly one area we want to do better on is the power play,” said Ryan McDonagh, the only Ranger selected to travel to Los Angeles for All-Star weekend. “It’s been a little dry but will come around.”