In just 10 days, the New York Rangers will visit the City Of Brotherly Love to play against their Atlantic Division rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, in the 2012 Winter Classic, the NHL's annual outdoor game, at Citizen Bank Park, Jan. 2. But, before the heated rivals play in the much anticipated event, both will meet Friday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. on MSG and NHL Network).
The hype leading up to Friday night's contest will not be as grand, but the same amount of standing's points (2) will be up for grabs. Currently, the first-place Flyers (21-8-4, 46 points) are slightly ahead of the second-place Rangers (20-8-4) in the Atlantic Division standings and a victory will either tighten or loosen up the division-standings race, which heads into the holiday break.
Less than 24 hours ago, the Rangers downed tri-state rival, the New York Islanders, 4-2, at MSG. The victory was New York's third straight and helped continue its hot play, which features a 10-3-1 record over the last 14 games.
Meanwhile, the Flyers are on a five-game winnings streak, which included four coming without their leading scorer, center Claude Giroux, who had been suffering from concussion-like symptoms. On Wednesday, Giroux returned to the ice and tallied one goal and three assists in Philadelphia's 4-1 victory at the Dallas Stars.