At a glance: In what could very well be a preview of the Rangers' first-round playoff matchup, the Blueshirts host the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers enter Wednesday’s action riding a four-game winning streak, including a gutty comeback effort against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night. The Rangers lead the Flyers by just one point in the Metropolitan Division standings, but the Flyers have two games in hand, making this game pivotal for both clubs' home-ice advantage hopes in the postseason. And it’s not just the Flyers whom the Rangers have to be concerned about; there is currently a four-team race for the last two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings sit at seventh and eighth, respectively, but are tied with the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs with 80 points. The Blue Jackets and Red Wings have played one game fewer than the Capitals, however, and two fewer than the Leafs.
That hurts: The Rangers announced Tuesday evening that top-six forward Chris Kreider is out of the lineup Wednesday against the Flyers and will miss the team's upcoming Western Canada swing. beyond that, it is unclear how long the 22-year-old winger will be sidelined. According to coach Alain Vigneault, Kreider suffered a hand injury during Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets. Vigneault said the team is still deciding on a course of action for Kreider and did not rule out surgery. According to a report from TSN, Kreider might have suffered a broken hand, which would put him on the shelf for approximately a month. That’s a significant blow to the Rangers as they round the final turn before the end of the regular season. The former Boston College standout is having a terrific season with 17 goals and 37 points; his speed and physicality have added a dangerous dimension to the team’s offensive attack.
Help on the way: With the injury to Kreider, the Rangers have recalled prospect J.T. Miller from the AHL. Miller has bounced back and forth between New York and Hartford all season, but the scouting reports suggest that the 20-year-old center is tearing it up in the minors.
Back on the mend: Both Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis, who were severely limited on Monday because of the flu, appear to be in good health. The players got a day off Tuesday to rest and recuperate and seem ready and eager to contribute Wednesday night. Vigneault said St. Louis will take Kreider’s spot on a line with Stepan and Rick Nash.