The New York Rangers were picked by many to win the Metropolitan division after a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
The start of the 2022-23 NHL season hasn’t gone exactly to plan though for the Blueshirts.
New York sits at 0-2 in division games with the two losses coming in a combined 8-1 domination from their opponents. It doesn’t help that both the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets, both victorious over the Rangers this season, sit behind New York in the standings.
Tuesday night will give the Rangers another opportunity to end their early season Metro woes when the upstart Flyers come to Madison Square Garden to start a four-game home stretch for New York.
The Flyers aren’t last year’s group that was one of the worst in the Metro division though. With John Tortorella now at the helm, Philadelphia has enjoyed a surprising 5-2-1 start to the season with key wins against Florida, Tampa Bay, and New Jersey.
Philadelphia’s style of play is similar to the city: hard-nose, aggressive, and at times, nasty. While the “hard reset” in Philly has gotten off to a fast start, the type of hockey game they play is nothing new to the New York Rangers.
“I’m not surprised because you know Torts is going to go in and they are going to work hard.” Gerard Gallant told reporters Tuesday. “They are physical players. That’s the identity of the team and they are doing a good job.”
A key to Philadelphia’s quick start has been the goaltending of Carter Hart. The 24-year-old goaltender has shrugged off a difficult last couple of seasons and has started 5-0-1 in the young season. A 2.31 GAA and a .938% save percentage would both be career highs for the former second-round pick.
“Very improved. They are getting great goaltending. They are a solid team.” Gallant said.
To end their recent woes in their division, the Rangers will need to do a better job of finishing the excellent chances that have come through. New York’s xGF is among the best in the entire NHL, but their lack of scores against Columbus and the Islanders has left the team frustrated at times.
The team knows it won’t be any different against the Flyers. Philadelphia’s physical play also may be better for some on the roster currently.
“I can play the same, I can be physical as well. I think I need to be that more today because the other team is like that. There isn’t a big difference, we just know that we can play like them also.” Kaapo Kakko told AMNY Tuesday morning.
New York has their work cut out for them with an 0-2 mark in their division. Riding a two-game winning streak over the weekend though is expected to be enough confidence for the Rangers to get back to their winning ways against the Flyers.