The Broadway vs. Broad Street rivalry is always intense, but with just one point separating the Rangers and Flyers with fewer than a dozen games left in the season, Wednesday's meeting has special significance.
The Rangers (40-29-4, 84 points) take on the Flyers (38-26-7, 83 points) in a nationally televised meeting at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
“They’re as hot as any team in the league right now,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. “They’re going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a good test for us.”
The Rangers and Flyers happen to be the second- and third-hottest teams in the conference after the Bruins, who are 9-0-1 in their last 10. The Rangers are on a current league-best four-game winning streak. The Flyers are 7-2-1 in their last 10.
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But both teams are just part of a tense playoff picture in the East.
New York holds down the fifth spot, while Philadelphia is just one spot back in sixth. The winner of Wednesday's game, should it come in regulation, will be in fifth come Thursday. Boston and Pittsburgh are clear of the field at first and second in the conference respectively. But spots three through 10 — with only the top 8 making the postseason — are separated by just nine points.
No coach would likely admit it, but avoiding a drop to the seventh or eighth seed and facing a matchup with the Bruins or Penguins in the opening round is of the utmost importance.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.