Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 11/26/11

There's no better way to celebrate a victory against a top opponent than playing the very next day against yet another top opponent. This is especially the case when those opponents are the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers; currently the Rangers' two biggest rivals in the Eastern Conference in my opinion. The Blueshirts got back on track with a 6-3 win over the Caps in Washington yesterday, after dropping two straight to the Canadiens and Panthers earlier in the week to end their seven-game winning streak. New York has been on the road for four straight games, so it will be refreshing to return home to Madison Square Garden, where they are 5-1-1 this season. 

The Flyers, too, are coming off a win on Friday, as they defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, thanks to two goals from leading-scorer Claude Giroux. In fact, not only does Giroux lead the Flyers in scoring, but he is also second in the league in both the points and goals categories. With both Jaromir Jagr and James Van Riemsdyk currently out of the lineup, Claude is the guy Philadelphia is leaning on, and he's led the way just fine so far. 

It's always a hyped up contest when the Rangers and Flyers meet up, but even more so this year with the two clubs squaring off in the Winter Classic on January 2. With HBO's 24/7 capturing the rivalry (the preview was awesome last night) and exposing it to the outside world, there is going to be a lot of tension and mixed emotions developing between these two hockey clubs, as if that wasn't the case already. Only four points separate them in the standings right now, but the Rangers have played three less games to this point. 

The thing I like most about this match-up, and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette pointed it out in last night's preview, is that both teams play a blue-collar, rough and tough style of hockey. They don't leave anything on the ice, they don't back down to their opponent and both of their coaches expect a lot out of them. It's the ideal rivalry to follow for such an anticipated event in hockey, and it all begins today. 

In order to maintain the Flyers, the Rangers will need a very similar effort to what we saw in Washington yesterday. Everyone was skating, all four lines contributed and they kept the penalties to a minimum. The Blueshirts played a team game yesterday, and that's really the only way this squad is going to have success. There is not enough individual talent for only three or four players to show up and win a hockey game. The Rangers need contributions from everyone, and when they get that, they can be a legitimate contending team as we saw against the Caps. 

The line to watch today will be the newly formed trio containing Ruslan Fedotenko, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan. This line really took off yesterday, led by Captain Cally’s three assists. Ruslan Fedotenko also picked up two goals to earn the Broadway Hat for the first time this season. If these three come out and play another solid game, this is definitely a line we could see John Tortorella keep together for a while. 

The other line to watch, as always, is the first line of Anisimov, Stepan and Gaborik. I thought this line skated better than anyone in yesterday’s win, especially Anisimov who picked up a powerplay goal in the process. I give the coach credit for keeping these three together, realizing they have distinct chemistry even though the team dropped two straight games earlier in the week.

As far as the lineup goes for today's game, I would expect to see everything stay the same as yesterday's lineup in Washington. The only change we maybe will see is Marty Biron in goal for Henrik Lundqvist, but Hank played awfully well yesterday and personally, I'd play him again. 

New York Rangers (Probable) Lineup


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