Today is the day a rivalry gets renewed. The Rangers entertain the Flyers tonight in a much anticipated series. Let’s throw a few musings up.
The series against the Flyers represents a no-win situation for the Rangers. In all honesty, there is not a huge amount separating the two teams but yet everyone expects the Rangers to win. The Flyers have a ton of talent but are very flawed. That said, it wouldn’t be the greatest of shocks if they beat the Rangers but it would cause serious fall-out in New York.
Is there a single Ranger forward you wouldn’t swap for Claude Giroux?
Beyond the obvious (Hank, McD, Nash), who holds they key to the second round for the Rangers? Mats Zuccarello. He has been the Rangers best powerplay forward all year and you have to assume the Flyers will take more penalties than the Rangers. If the Rangers can stay out of the box and Zuccarello can work some PP magic that may be the decisive factor.
The cliché says depth prevails in the playoffs. If true, Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle and the Rangers third line are critical for a prolonged playoff run. Boyle’s penalty killing and face-off ability will be a huge factor while Hagelin’s speed and ability to score in bunches could help; especially if he gets matched up against the slower defensive pairs of the Flyers.
How long will it take the Flyers to aim their first cheap shot at Ryan McDonagh? My guess is by his third shift.
If I’m Alain Vigneault and he’s healthy enough to go, Derek Dorsett should spend the entire evening on or around Hartnell and Simmonds. Get either (preferably both) of those two off their game and it severely impacts the Flyers effectiveness.
The biggest aspect working in the Rangers favour this series could be team speed. The Flyers have a lumbering defensive unit and the Rangers have some real speed up front (especially if Fast plays and/or Kreider has any involvement in the series). If the Rangers get the puck deep and can turn the Flyers around it could create a lot of chances.
Beware Ray Emery. He’s better than he’s being advertised and we all know about the Rangers love of back-up goalies. Let’s not forget Emery has been to a Cup final before.
Derick Brassard has a huge opportunity this off-season. A solid regular season followed up an impressive first post-season for the Rangers last spring. If he produces this time around it will go a long way to cementing a nice new deal for the skilled pivot. He could add quite a few $$$ to his new deal during this playoff season. What better motivation could there be?
• Would you dress Raphael Diaz – and if so, who for?
• Dan Carcillo or Derek Dorsett?
• What qualifies as a successful Rangers’ post-season to you?
• Who will have a better post-season: Nash or St Louis?