Rangers-Flyers Preview

The Associated Press

When looking at the numbers, it isn't hard to figure out why the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the worst teams in the NHL.

They're having a hard time scoring, mustering shots on goal and stopping opponents from putting the puck in the net - a recipe for disaster that has these teams reeling heading into Thursday night's matchup in Philadelphia.

The Rangers are close to concluding a stretch of nine straight road games to open the season due to renovations at Madison Square Garden, and it has not been kind to them.

New York (2-5-0) has been outscored 29-11 and is last in the NHL with 193 shots on goal. Its 11 goals are tied with Philadelphia (1-7-0) for the fewest in the league, and the 29 allowed rank among the worst.

The Flyers have the fewest points in the NHL and are 27th with 221 shots on goal while getting outscored 24-11.

Neither team showed any signs of breaking out in its last game.

New York had 22 shots on goal, its second-fewest of the season, in a 4-0 loss to New Jersey on Saturday. The Devils entered the game as the only team in the league without a win after opening 0-4-3.

Henrik Lundqvist allowed all four goals on just 19 shots, and he aggravated an injury that caused him to miss practice time this week. He won't dress for this game, giving Cam Talbot his first NHL start.

"I have been waiting a long time for this, working towards this, so I'll be ready," Talbot, an undrafted free agent, told the Rangers' official website. "I am extremely excited.

"It's every kid's dream that grows up playing hockey to one day get the chance to play in the NHL. I just can't wait until that time comes. I'll have to approach it like any other game. It'll be tough to control those emotions, but I'll have to do my best to settle myself down and just focus on the game."

Center Brad Richards, who has scored four of the Rangers' goals, expects his team to have the same approach in front of the rookie goaltender.

"We need this win," he said. "Every team goes through where their starting goalie doesn't play every night. We don't prepare any differently. We need a win."

The same can be said for the Flyers, who have scored six times and allowed 14 goals during a four-game losing streak. They've been idle since last Thursday's 4-1 home loss to Pittsburgh.

First-year Flyer Vincent Lecavalier missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, but he practiced Tuesday and appears to be on track to return for this contest.

Lecavalier, though, left his customary center position and skated on the right wing along with center Claude Giroux and rookie left wing Michael Raffl as coach Craig Berube looks to get the offense going.

"We have a great group here, we've just got to put it all together," Lecavalier told the Flyers' official website. "I believe in this group. If we go to the net and score a couple more goals than we have so far, then good things will happen."

New York has won 11 of 13 in this series but lost 4-2 at Philadelphia in the last meeting April 16.

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