According to Andrew Gross the Rangers will have daily practices starting tomorrow and leading up to the first game of their series against the Flyers on Thursday. The last time these teams met in the postseason was 17 years ago. As we all know, the first two games of the series will be played at Madison Square Garden. Can you believe that we're less than a week away from Rangers playoff hockey?
Some quick notes:
We've all been pleased with the noted improvement in the Rangers depth scoring this year. However, the Rangers depth scoring is outmatched by Philadelphia's. They Flyers have seven 20 goal scorers, the Rangers have two. Obviously the Rangers are going to need production from their big names; Stepan, Nash, St. Louis, and Richards, but they are also going to need the Brassard line to continue to mystify the opposition. Playoff heroes are often role players that elevate their games in the playoffs. Look for heart-on-their-sleeve guys like Dominic Moore, Derek Dorsett, and Brian Boyle to elevate their games and play a big role in the series.
A key to the Rangers success in the series will be staying out of the box. The Flyers have the 8th best power play in the league this year (19.5%). The Rangers have the 4th best penalty killing unit in the league (85.3%). Special teams play may very well decide who wins the series. We all know what kind of game the Flyers are known for playing. The Flyers were the second-most penalized team in the league this year and have received more penalty minutes than any other team. The Rangers are going to have to keep their composure and not let the Flyers bully their way into taking over the series.
"One thing is they (the Flyers) have a dangerous power play so discipline is going to be one key. They've played a certain way to get into the playoffs, they're not going to change." -Brad Richards
The Rangers need their power play to be a weapon again. Since the Olympic break the Rangers power play has been toothless. The Flyers will take penalties in this series because they're the Flyers, and the Rangers need to make them pay for it.
There's no doubt which team has the edge in goaltending but it would be a mistake to underestimate Steve Mason. Mason is hardly elite but he's been rock solid for the Flyers this season and is one of the main reasons they find themselves in the playoffs this year. Mason is currently injured though it is unclear just how injured he truly is. Craig Berube has said he expects Mason to start in Game 1 for the Flyers.
Claude Giroux is scary good at hockey. Despite a miserable start to the 2013-14 campaign (Giroux didn't score a goal until November 9th) the Flyers captain finished third in NHL scoring with 85 points in 81 games. This series could well be decided on how well McDonagh and Girardi contain the Giroux line. Giving Giroux time and space is like giving a literate man-eating tiger a list with the addresses of your friends and family... or something.
So what do you guys think? Are you nervous about this match-up for the Rangers? Would you have preferred facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round? Other than Giroux, which Flyers make you nervous? Are you ready for Thursday? Let me know what you think in the comments.
We'll have a lot of previews and coverage leading up to the series so keep an eye out for all of that good stuff.
Let's go Rangers.
Let's go Playoffs.
p.s. How do you guys like the picture I chose for this thread?