By Ed Benkin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Flyers have heard all about their recent struggles at Madison Square Garden. They insist they have a clean slate in their first round playoff series.
The Flyers and Rangers will play Game One of their series in New York on Thursday night. The Flyers have lost their last eight games against the Rangers at the Garden, but players such as Jake Voracek say they’re looking forward to snapping the streak in the post-season.
“We are due for a win there,” said Voracek. “I think it’s great timing to win a couple of games there right now. We’ve got to go step by step with the first game on Thursday. We’ve got to prepare for them. They are a very good team.”
There is still uncertainty concerning the status of Steve Mason. The Flyers’ goaltender was injured in Pittsburgh on Saturday, but participated in practice on Tuesday. Coach Craig Berube said Mason’s availability for the playoff opener has not been determined as of yet. General Manager Paul Holmgren said they will know more about Mason’s situation after he is reevaluated.
“It was good to see him out there,” Holmgren said. “I thought he looked okay. We’ve just got to take it one day at a time here. We’ll know more tomorrow (Wednesday).”
While the Flyers are looking forward to their playoff series, the team also took care of some business off the ice. The Flyers gave Defenseman Andrew MacDonald a contract extension. It is reportedly a six-year deal worth $30 million.
“The Flyers are a team that’s always going to compete,” MacDonald said. They are always going to spend the money and go for it every year. Obviously, that’s important to every player. You want to be competitive and try to win it all every year.”
MacDonald and his teammates know the Rangers will present a tough challenge. Claude Giroux also understands the importance of the rivalry between the two franchises as well as their fans.
“It’s almost like playing Pittsburgh,” Giroux said. “Obviously, the rivalry between both teams is pretty high. I’m aware that both fans hate each other, so it’s going to be good.”
Steve Downie missed practice and is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury. The Flyers also agreed to terms with Union College Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who was part of the Skating Dutchmen’s National Championship team. Gostisbehere will report to the team’s AHL club in Adirondack.