Originally posted on NBC New York  |  Last updated 12/23/11

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 2: Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 2, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Friday night's contest between the Rangers and Flyers is going to be a big one and it has nothing to do with the fact that the Winter Classic is just around the corner.  The Rangers guaranteed that they have a chance to be in first place in the Atlantic by continuing their strong play in Thursday night's 4-2 win over the Islanders. They are getting contributions from every spot on their roster -- Hello, Stu Bickel! -- despite injuries leaving them shorthanded on the blue line and continue to get the kind of season from Marian Gaborik that everyone missed last season. Gaborik is now tied for the NHL lead with 20 goals after scoring against the Isles on Thursday and he's sure to be a target for the Flyers at the Garden on Friday. The nice thing for the Rangers right now, and the biggest difference from the last two years, is that they aren't totally reliant on Gaborik to put the puck in the net. That's just one measuring stick of how far the Rangers have come this season. Michael Del ...
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