Flyers win battle of the bust teams, but Rangers will win the war

Matt Larkin
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When was the last time a Rangers-Flyers tilt felt so…irrelevant?

If you were a couch potato tonight, you could’ve watched Game 2 of the World Series, or Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers in NFL action, or the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks in a darkhorse Stanley Cup final preview.

Normally, the Broadway Blueshirts and Broad Street Bullies would be just as worthy of your viewing, but the two high-profile squads limped to a combined 3-12 record entering tonight’s clash.

It turned out to be a surprisingly spirited affair, one of the “good” kinds of 2-1 games, punctuated by some acrobatic goaltending by Philly’s Steve Mason and bad blood boiling over between the two Patrick Atlantic Metropolitan Division rivals. Benoit Pouliot was ejected for boarding Maxime Talbot, though the hit was more careless than malicious.

The Flyers wound up on the good side of the 2-1 final and won the battle. But who will win the war? Of these two struggling teams, which is more likely to turn it around?

Despite tonight’s defeat, i believe it’s the Rangers, and here are three reasons why:

1. Offensive reinforcements on the way.

Unless you count Chris Pronger, Scott Hartnell is the only major injury affecting the Flyers as of tonight, as Vinny Lecavalier and Kimmo Timonen are back. The Rangers are missing some of their most important offensive cogs. Star sniper Rick Nash is concussed, Ryan Callahan has a broken thumb, stinky speedy Carl Hagelin is expected to return from a shoulder injury soon. Both teams have had tremendous difficulty scoring, but the Rangers have the better excuse.

2. Henrik Lundqvist

Ranger fans should actually be relieved about Lundqvist’s injury, which he revealed this week. He’s just hurt, that’s all! It puts to rest the wacky theories about his shrunken equipment causing trouble. Once healthy, the game’s most reliable goaltender will be just that again.

3. The road

For the Rangers, the road has been like the Cormac McCarthy novel: apocalyptically bleak. Fact: eight games into the season, the Rangers have not played a home game yet and they won’t until Game 10 because Madison Square Garden is undergoing renovations. Again, “we have played a ninth of the season on the road to start 2013-14” seems like a decent excuse.

It’s possible this season goes down as one to forget for both struggling franchises, but if you have to pick one turnaround team, that’s the Rangers.