Ready for some playoff-like hockey?
A home-and-home set that will feel like the postseason is on tap for the Flyers (36-20-7) and Rangers (35-24-4), starting Friday night in Philadelphia.
Let's get into the essentials:
• When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. ET
• Where: Wells Fargo Center
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
• The Flyers and Rangers are two of the NHL's hottest teams.
They happen to be division rivals and play each other twice over the next three days.
The Flyers have won four straight and are 14-5-1 since Jan. 8 with an NHL-best 3.60 goals per game. The Rangers have won five straight and are 9-1-0 over their last 10 games.
These next two games are pivotal for both clubs. For the Flyers, they can continue to fortify their playoff hopes while delivering a haymaker to New York's chances.
With 79 points, the Flyers are in third place of the Metropolitan Division and only a point back of the second-place Penguins. Thanks to their surge, the Rangers are only two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot and five behind the Flyers.
Pittsburgh, Carolina and Columbus are also in action tonight. Buckle up.
• Kevin Hayes has kept tabs on his old team.
He knows of New York's run and sees the damage Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have caused.
Panarin, who has 32 goals and 55 assists, is on an 11-game point streak (five goals, 11 assists), while Zibanejad has scored a goal in six straight games and owns 27 points over his last 18 games (13 goals, 14 assists).
The Rangers have won nine straight road games by a combined score of 34-17.
I watch some of their games when I’m at home on the couch," Hayes said Friday after morning skate. "It looks like they’re buying in defensively, they’ve got five guys back to the house pretty much every time it’s in the zone, and then their elite players are putting up some serious numbers.
Mika was out for a lot of games. You watch him, for me, from when I first met him, he’s the biggest improvement I’ve seen on the ice. That guy is lighting it up this year. I don’t think he gets enough credit, he probably gets a lot of credit with the New York media, but around the league, I don’t think he gets enough credit. He’s an elite player in this league and he’s dominating right now.
I think taking away him and Panarin are big keys for the game tonight and on Sunday.
• Derek Grant and Nate Thompson will each play their second game with the Flyers.
In their Philly debuts, both centers played 12-plus minutes.
Grant's responsibilities could grow with each game.
“Derek Grant, we’ve got some experimenting to do there," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "We see some potential, we see a lot of smarts without the puck. We’ll let them play, see how they do tonight and we’re going to figure this out here as we move forward.”
• Carter Hart is 17-2-2 with a 1.65 goals-against average and .941 save percentage at home.
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl-Nate Thompson-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun
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