AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
The Rangers and Flyers met in the playoffs for the first time since 1997, and the Rangers drew first blood. New York scored three goals in the third period en route to their 4-1 win at MSG. Brad Richards had a fantastic night, notching a goal and two assists. Martin St. Louis had two assists. Carl Hagelin scored a goal and drew a four-minute high sticking penalty that the Rangers scored twice on. The fourth line did their thing, playing solid defense and stifling Claude Giroux and the high-powered Flyers offense.
Henrik Lundqvist was forced to make only 14 saves, with just one of those coming in the third period. The Rangers absolutely dominated the game, and Hank just had to sit back and make the saves when he had to. If the Rangers continue to play like this, it will be a short series.
On to the goals:
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Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Playoff hockey is upon us. The Rangers and Flyers will see each other in the playoffs for the first time since the Legion of Doom bowled over the Rangers in 1997. For a complete preview of this series, including the systems Craig Berube has the Flyers playing, check out this post by Suit. Justin wrote a post on Steve Mason’s goaltending style, but he’s not playing tonight for the Flyers. Instead the Rangers will get Ray Emery, which gives the Blueshirts an even larger edge in net.
The Rangers will be without Chris Kreider for the duration of the series, but Ryan McDonagh will make his return to the lineup after dealing with a shoulder issue that cost him the final five games of the season. Jesper Fast will skate for Kreider, and after a bit of a scare, Derick Brassard will indeed be in the lineup.
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The title and story sounds familiar. The Rangers will be a dangerous team in the playoffs. The usual reason is because Henrik Lundqvist can steal a series, something he’s done multiple times in the past. But the Washington Capitals are not in the playoffs this year, so there needs to be a different narrative. This year’s team looks different. This team is one of the hottest in the league heading into the playoffs. This year, the #fancystats put them up there with the best.
Puck possession and PDO (SV%+SH%) are two stats we use regularly around here. It’s been proven many, many times that teams that drive puck possession are teams that are successful. Teams with a high PDO (over 100) generally were “more lucky” and have abnormally high SH% or SV% (or both). Teams that rode those to the playoffs generally fizzle out early, as the luck runs out and their SH%/SV% regress to the mean. This may seem complicated and a bit of an abstract concept, but Exhibit A is the 2011-2012 LA Kings. Exhibit B is the 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs, who didn’t even make the playoffs.
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2014 contenders for Lord Stanley
Here at BSB, we’re always using “expertise” and “knowledge” and “total guesses” to bring you news and our views on goings on around the Rangers organization and all around the NHL. A few of us have broken down our individual predictions for each of the Round 1 playoff series. We’ll be doing this as each round advances. Enjoy.
Detroit vs Boston
Kevin’s Pick: Bruins in 7. I love the way the Red Wings are playing right now and probably would have taken them over any other team in the Eastern Conference, but this is a nightmare matchup for Detroit.
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The NHL has announced the schedule for the first round, which begins Thursday at MSG:
- Game 1: Thursday 4/17 – 7PM | MSG
- Game 2: Sunday 4/20 – 12PM | NBCSN
- Game 3: Tuesday 4/22 – 8PM | MSG
- Game 4: Friday 4/25 – 7PM |MSG
- Game 5: Sunday 4/27 – 12PM | NBCSN
- Game 6: Tuesday 4/29 – TBD | MSG
- Game 7: Wednesday 4/30 – TBD | MSG
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
War is upon us. On the eve of War. The Rangers set to battle Philly. Pretty much every title for this post I could think of had the word ‘battle’ or ‘war’ in it. Nothing against Ottawa, DC, or other markets we have squared off with in recent first rounds, but Philadelphia brings a different connotation.
The history of this rivalry is too long and colorful to recap in one post and certainly no one needs a history lesson here. However, for the first time since 1997, these two teams will have a chance to send each other home packing. And unlike other potential playoff matchups, this one could get theatrical.
No matter who has the GM title, who’s behind the bench, or what players suit up in orange, black and white, the identity of the Flyers remains the same. However, unlike I-95 wars of seasons past, the Rangers have to stay within their team concept and not stoop down to their level. They have to stick to their game plan.
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We might be seeing a whole lot of this ugly face in the coming weeks
Pretty much since the moment I first heard about realignment, I wasn’t a fan. It seemed silly to me to dramatically restructure the league when more changes might have to be made in short order due to relocation or expansion (although the likelihood of that has been reduced). I thought it was unfair that both Eastern Conference divisions housed an additional team, reducing each member’s chances of making the playoffs. And don’t even get me started on the new division names.
But worst of all is the new playoff format. It makes no sense to me that three teams from each division are guaranteed playoff spots regardless of whether Team 3 in Division A has 45 points and Team 6 in Division B has 85 points (hypothetically).
That’s not to say the new system is without advantages. I like that each team now plays every other team twice a season, and I do see the advantages of making travel time closer to equal for each franchise. But overall, I would have preferred to keep the old format to preserve the 1-8 playoff system if nothing else.
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Some people will call this “backing into” the playoffs, but with the Devils loss last night, the Rangers have officially clinched a playoff spot. I say some people call it backing in because the Rangers still have three games left, so it’s not like they needed the loss. It just helped them clinch sooner. The magic number to clinch a non-wild card seed is down to four on Columbus. The magic number to clinch home ice against the Flyers in round one is still at six.
As long as the Rangers get a #2 or #3 seed, they will guarantee that they will not meet the Bruins until the Conference Finals. Since a first round matchup with the Flyers is all but guaranteed at this point, it appears the road to the Stanley Cup Finals will begin against Philly, then head to Pittsburgh in the second round, and then finally to Boston for the Conference Finals. That, of course, assumes wins by the favorites in each round.
Remember that horrible start? It seems like a distant memory. The Rangers crawled out of the cellar to be one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs. New York is also third in the conference in goal differential as well. This is a team that not many want to see in the postseason.
With the playoffs on our doorstep, reminding us that our Rangers have yet to clinch a spot, it’s time to continue our look ahead at teams that we’ll definitely be seeing through late April at the very least. Though the focus has been mostly on the west, the East is also somewhat settled up. The reigning Eastern Conference champs, the Boston Bruins, have been in destruction mode all season and don’t seem to be letting up.
The Bruins, cashing in with 113 points as of today, are making quick work of nearly everyone who comes their way. Much like last year in the playoffs, they’re a terrifying group to look at, which is useful as the Rangers come down the home stretch and need them to make work of rivals like the Flyers. With their defeat of Philly yesterday, they clinched the best record in the East and home ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference finals, something that’s a huge deal as they’ve got the best home record in all of hockey.
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Six points in three games please.
With Columbus’s loss to Chicago last night, the Rangers magic number to clinch a non-wild card playoff spot is down to just four. The magic number to clinch a playoff spot is one (meaning they can clinch tonight as long as the game gets to overtime). The magic number to clinch home-ice against the Flyers is seven. With five games remaining, the Rangers are all but guaranteed two of these, but home-ice will take a few days to clinch.
The Rangers have three gimme’s of their four remaining games: Three home games against Ottawa, Carolina, and Buffalo. Those are three games where they should gain six points, assuming they don’t throw in the towel like they did the last time they played against Carolina. Those six points are pretty crucial for the playoffs. It guarantees them a non-wild card playoff spot, and –at the very least– gets them to one point of home-ice in the first round.
Why is all this important?
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