NHL Hockey: Philadelphia Flyers/New York Rangers Preview, Odds and Prediction - 03/15/2021

by Big Al Staff

Monday NHL action on the NBC Sports Network features an East Division showdown between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers.

Philadelphia has only won six of their 15 games since the beginning of February. They have lost two in a row and five of their last six games after a 5-4 loss on Saturday. The Flyers played from behind all night, with deficits of 2-0, 3-0, and 5-2. Philly made things interesting by scoring two goals in the final six minutes of the game but could not register the fifth goal to force overtime.

After earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs in the bubble last season, the Flyers have dropped to fifth place in the makeshift East Division. There are three points behind Boston for fourth place and the final spot playoff from the division.

James van Riemsdyk leads the teams with 12 goals and 16 assists. Fellow left-winger Joel Farabee has added 11 goals with 11 assists. Philadelphia is solid up in the middle with their top three lines, with centers Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Kevin Hayes combining for 20 goals and 37 assists.

Carter Hart has been named the starting goaltender tonight after relieving Brian Elliott on Saturday. Hart has a 6-6 record with a 3.69 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage in 16 (15 starts) this season. Hart posted a 9-5 record, with 2.23 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage, in 14 playoff games (11 starts) last year after a regular season, where he had a 24-13-3 mark with a 2.42 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage in 43 games (40 starts).

New York ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 win at Boston on Saturday. The Rangers scored more goals in that game than during their three-game slide. Their victory was the first time they had shutout an opponent since a 5-0 win against the Islanders on January 16th. New York is in fifth place in the East Division, four points behind the Flyers.

The Rangers got a shot in the arm with the return of Artemi Panarin to the ice on Saturday. The star left-winger had not played since February 20th, when he took a personal leave of absence. Andrei Nazarov, Panarin’s former coach in the Russian KHL, accused him of physical assault against a teenage woman in 2011. Panarin denied the claim while asserting the accusation was political retaliation for his being an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin. Panarin was leading the Rangers with 18 points before his hiatus. He assisted on a goal while registering one shot on Saturday.

Right-winger Pavel Buchnevich has eight goals and 14 assists to lead the team with 22 points. Left-winger Chris Kreider leads the team with 14 goals. Rookie Alexis Lafreniere, the top-pick in the 2020 draft, has four goals with three assists, but he has scored twice with an assist so far this month.

Keith Kinkaid is likely to get the start in net tonight. Igor Shesterkin remains out on Injured Reserve with a groin injury. Kinkaid has a 1.53 goals-against-average with a .933 save percentage in four games with two starts this season. He served as a backup last year for Montreal, where he had a 1-1-3 record with a 4.24 goals-against-average and a .875 save percentage in six games (five starts). In his last season as a regular starter with New Jersey in 2018-19, Kinkaid had a 15-18-6 record with a 4.24 goals-against-average and a .875 save percentage.

Philadelphia won the last meeting between these teams on February 24th in a 4-3 home win. BetAnySports lists the Flyers as a -120 money line favorite with the total set at 6.

Prediction:  Flyers 4 Rangers 3

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