Both teams will be forced to use makeshift defensive units when they meet Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Philadelphia entered Tuesday’s 4-1 home loss to Montreal without injured defensemen Eric Desjardins, Dennis Seidenberg and Marcus Ragnarsson. Desjardins will miss at least two months with a broken right forearm, Seidenberg is out at least three months with a broken left leg and Ragnarsson will be sidelined up to two weeks with a sprained left rotator cuff.
Things got worse for the Flyers when another defenseman, Jim Vandermeer, separated his right shoulder late in the first period.
“It’s a tough time for us right now,” Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Regrouping is going to become important. I don’t think we can lose sight of the fact that we were checked hard today and we didn’t respond the way I would have liked.”
The Rangers find themselves in a very similar situation after being swept by Boston in a home-and-home series, including a 4-1 home loss Tuesday.
New York was without three regular defensemen and could be missing all three again Thursday.
Darius Kasparaitis is out 10 to 12 weeks with a knee injury and Greg de Vries is expected to miss another two weeks with a sprained right knee. Tom Poti, scratched Tuesday with back spasms, could return Thursday.
“Anytime you’ve got three of your regular defensemen out of your lineup it’s tough,” Rangers captain Mark Messier said. “I don’t think we can panic at this point.”
Without Kasparaitis, de Vries and Poti, rookie Lawrence Nycholat made his NHL debut for the Rangers on Tuesday. New York also dressed Dale Purinton and Joel Bouchard, who have played sparingly this season.
While the Flyers are battling New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic Division, the Rangers are two points behind the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
New York is 0-2-2 in its last four games and 3-5-2-1 this month.