New York Rangers' Anton Stralman checks Philadelphia Flyers' Matt Read...

New York Rangers' Anton Stralman checks Philadelphia Flyers' Matt Read into the boards in the first period. (Dec. 23, 2011) Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Rangers play the Flyers Sunday for the first time since the Winter Classic, and this one at Madison Square Garden could be very physical, a few Rangers said Saturday. And that was before the Flyers lost to the Devils, 6-4, Saturday in Philadelphia.

"We've played pretty well against them, so I expect they'll come out hard," Henrik Lundqvist said. "It'll be a faster game than outdoors, which was kind of slowed down."

The Rangers are 3-0 against the Flyers this season, with three meetings left. Lundqvist shut out the Flyers on Nov. 26 and has allowed only four goals in three games. Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to be in goal for the Flyers, who are three points behind the first-place Rangers in the Eastern Conference.

Defenseman Marc Staal, who made his season debut in the Winter Classic after missing the first 36 games of the season because of lingering symptoms of a concussion, predicted Sunday's matinee "will be a lot more physical" than the Rangers' 3-2 win at Citizens Bank Park.

Michael Del Zotto agreed. "Points mean a lot for both teams and we hate each other," he said. "We haven't been home for a while and it's Super Bowl Sunday, so it should be pretty noisy."

Defenseman Steve Eminger expected to be told Saturday night whether he will return after missing 30 games with a separated right shoulder. But John Tortorella could stick with rookie Stu Bickel, who is more than willing to drop the gloves, and give Eminger another day off.

"It's a little different feeling than last year at this time, when a win might mean the difference between eighth place or 10th," said Eminger, who has been cleared to play.

Artem Anisimov will be on the left of Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan; Brandon Dubinsky, pointless in the last seven games, will play with Mike Rupp and John Mitchell.

"Artie's been one of our most reliable guys away from the puck," Tortorella said. "Dubi's had some struggles. He's begun to come at certain times, then we lose a little momentum with his game. The encouraging part is we're still above water and we still have guys who haven't totally found their game."

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