Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1: Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Rangers
By virtue of finishing third place in the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers have drawn the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. The Flyers and Rangers split their season series, with both teams winning twice on home ice.
Game 1 at NYR: Thurs., 7 p.m., CSN
Game 2 at NYR: Sun., 12 p.m., NBC
Game 3 at PHI: Tues., April 22, 8 p.m., CSN
Game 4 at PHI: Fri., April 25, 7 p.m., CSN
*Game 5 at NYR: Sun., April 27, 12 p.m., NBC
*Game 6 at PHI: Tues., April 29, TBA, CSN
*Game 7 at NYR: Wed., April 30, TBA, CSN
The Flyers have the deepest offense in the playoffs, with seven players scoring 20 or more goals. Claude Giroux leads the club in points (86) and is second in goals (28). His linemates Scott Hartnell (20 goals, 52 points) and Jake Voracek (23 goals, 62 points) have gelled well with Giroux to give the Flyers a potent top line.
Wayne Simmonds leads the club in goals (29), with 15 of them coming on the power play. Simmonds’ power play abilities have given the Flyers the eighth ranked power play (19.7%) in the league. Matt Read (22 goals), Brayden Schenn (20) and Vincent Lecavalier (20) round out the 20 goal scorers for the Flyers. Sean Couturier scored thirteen goals in a third line shutdown role, giving the Flyers weapons up and down their lineup.
While the Rangers (2.61 goals per game) don’t have the scoring potency as the Flyers, they have many weapons, with nine players in double digits. Leading the pack is Rick Nash with 26 goals, while Brad Richards has also hit the 20 goal mark. The line of Mats Zuccarello, Benoit Pouliot and Derick Brassard has combined for 52 goals this season. Zuccarello led the club with 59 points in the regular season.
Derek Stepan scored 17 goals this year on Nash’s wing. The other wingman, Martin St. Louis has 30 goals this year, but only has one goal in 19 games with New York. Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider both have 17 goals this season.
Kimmo Timonen has been the rock for the Flyers again this season, scoring 35 points. Timonen’s usual partner Braydon Coburn lead the club in average ice time (22:26). Mark Streit lead the Flyers blueline with 10 points and 44 points, and his partner Nicklas Grossmann had 189 hits to go along with 174 blocked shots. New addition Andrew MacDonald blocked 242 shots this season between his time in New York and Philadelphia. Heavy hitter Luke Schenn rounds out the Flyers’ top six, finishing the season with 260 hits.
The Rangers’ blueline is led by the pairing of Ryan McDonagh (14 goals, 43 points) and Dan Girardi (191 hits, 174 blocked shots). Besides McDonagh, the Rangers’ blueline doesn’t pack a scoring punch but they play team defense very well. Marc Staal anchors the second pairing with Anton Stralman, giving the Rangers depth on defense. John Moore and Kevin Klein are the third pairing, while Raphael Diaz is a capable seventh defenseman.
Steve Mason has been the Flyers’ number one all season, but a recent upper body injury could keep him from playing in the series opener Thursday. This season, Mason is 33-18-7 with a 2.50 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Since a rough stretch in mid-March, Mason is 7-3-1 in 12 games and has only allowed three goals three times during that span.
However, if Mason cannot go, Ray Emery (9-12-2, 2.96 GAA, .903 save percentage) will get the call. Emery is 7-2-0 lifetime against the Rangers with a 1.87 GAA and .936 save percentage and could possibly start Game 1.
Henrik Lundqvist has been one of the league’s best goaltenders this season, compiling a 33-24-5 record. Among goalies with 45 or more games played, he ranks eighth in goals against average (2.36) and ninth in save percentage (.920).
Advantage: New York
Series Prediction: Rangers in six
The Flyers will need to win at Madison Square Garden at least once to take the series, something they have not done since February 20, 2011 (0-8). At home this season, Lundqvist has a goals against average of 2.13 and a .926 save percentage. The battle of the Flyers offense against Lundqvist will be the series deciding factor.