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Surging Flyers visit slumping Rangers Tuesday night

Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, left, and Rangers center

Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, left, and Rangers center Mika Zibanejad vie for control of the puck during a preseason game Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, at MSG. Credit: AP / Bill Kostroun

The Broadway vs. Broad Street rivalry, which has produced bad blood and bruises since the 1970s, finally will get underway this season Tuesday night when the Flyers visit Madison Square Garden.

It’ll be the first of four matchups — one game in each of the next three months — with each team trying to elbow its way into a postseason berth in the Metropolitan Division, a battle that could go down to the wire. The finale will be in Philadelphia on April 7, the last day of the regular season.

A lot can happen before then, particularly with the Rangers, who are slumping everywhere but in goal. With the trade deadline six weeks away, general manager Jeff Gorton surely is doing some due diligence.

The concept of rebuilding on the fly that Gorton extolled last summer has stalled. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has not been the offensive spark hoped for when he agreed to a four-year contract to come home to New York. Defenseman Brendan Smith, who also signed a four-year deal, hasn’t looked like the player he was at the end of last season. Except for Mika Zibanejad and Michael Grabner (19 goals), the forward core — Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller — hasn’t lived up to expectations. Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey have been inconsistent in their second seasons, and so has defenseman Brady Skjei.

Throw in the absence of top left wing Chris Kreider (recovering from rib surgery to treat a blood clot) for at least six more weeks, and the immediate forecast is cloudy.

So decisions will have to be made on Nash, Grabner and David Desharnais, all of whom will be unrestricted free agents in June. Keep ’em or trade ’em?

Meanwhile, here come the Flyers, who beat the Devils on Saturday for their fourth straight win while the Rangers lost both weekend games, to the Islanders and Penguins, by a combined score of 12-4. A victory in regulation Tuesday would move the Flyers (6-3-1 in the last 10) past the Rangers (3-5-2) in the standings.

Claude Giroux has returned to All-Star form and Philly’s power play is cooking: A 7-for-14 run has lifted the man-advantage units to sixth in the rankings. The Rangers’ power play has scored in only three of the last 11 games.

Notes & quotes: The Rangers, who didn’t practice Monday, will have a morning skate at the Garden, when it may become clearer whether Ryan McDonagh (back spasms) and/or Kevin Hayes (leg) will dress for the game . . . Center Peter Holland was summoned Monday from Hartford and Boo Nieves was sent to the AHL. Holland is expected to play Tuesday.

New York Sports