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FLYERS’ CHALLENGE: Face Rangers, Leafs on Tues., Wed.



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Flyers players board a train to NYC, showing their allegiance to the Phillies in the World Series. Photo: Joe Siville.

To their credit, the Philadelphia Flyers are 5-2-1, have scored several opportunistic goals, and have received outstanding goaltending from Carter Hart.

But can it continue? Can they keep winning by rallying to overcome early deficits? Can they play with the big boys?

We are about to find out.

The Flyers’ next two games, played on consecutive nights, will be on the road against the New York Rangers (5-3-2) on Tuesday, and the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-4-2) on Wednesday.

Both are considered elite teams with a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup. The Maple Leafs’ slow start is considered an anomaly.

‘Statement’ week?

“Every game is like that for us,” center Lukas Sedlak said after practice Monday in Voorhees, when asked if this was a “statement” week for the Flyers to show they are the real deal. “Even the last game against Carolina; they have a good team, too. I think they’re probably one of the best in the NHL.”

Sedlak had two assists in the Flyers’ 4-3 overtime loss Saturday to Carolina, another expected powerhouse.

“That was a good game to see how we could handle them,” Sedlak said, “and to see how we have to play to be successful. The second part of the game, we did a good job, and we have to build off that.”

“Every game is tough now,” said veteran defenseman Justin Braun, who played briefly with the Rangers last season. “I feel pretty much every team we play could be a Cup contender. You have to be ready every night. Going to MSG is a tough place to play.”


Defending the PP

The Rangers “have a good power play, and we’re going to have to be sharp on that,” Braun added.

The Blueshirts are clicking at 23.7%, 12th in the NHL on the power play. The Philadelphia Flyers aren’t far behind: 21.4%, 16th in the league.

As for the Maple Leafs, they have lost four straight (0-2-2).

“We’re getting to go back home,” Toronto forward Mitch Marner told reporters after the visiting Leafs’ 4-3 OT loss Sunday to scuffling Anaheim. “It’s time to regroup.”

Anaheim had lost seven in a row.

“Toronto is kind of reeling right now, so we just have to find the energy for the second game,” Braun said. “I’m not really worried about that. We have to go to New York first.”

Coach John Tortorella downplayed the next two games.

“It doesn’t matter to me who we’re playing,” he said. “I’m not a big guy on a test to see where you stand. We’re taking it one game at a time. It doesn’t matter who we play. We’re just trying to be the best we can be.”

Is he happy with the team’s 5-2-1 start?

“I don’t think a coach is ever happy,” said Tortorella, whose team ends the road trip Saturday in Ottawa against Claude Giroux (six points in eight games) and the Senators. “I don’t think we can afford to be happy. I’m not upset. I’m not anything. I’m just getting ready for the next game. When you win a game, you’re happy for about a minute and a half, and then you’re thinking about the next opponent. That’s just how our life is as a coaching staff.”

Tortorella, who stressed the Philadelphia Flyers need to be less tentative at the start of games, said it was important for the coaches not to get too high or too low. “Just like players do as you go through a grind of a season,” he said.

Laczynski returns

After the birth of his first child, Leo, forward Tanner Laczynski returned to practice Monday. He missed the last two games to be with his wife.

Tortorella did not know if he was going to make lineup changes for Tuesday’s game.

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