Sizing up the Flyers-Rangers series

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Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The matchup

The Flyers (42-30-10) finished third in the Metropolitan Division with 94 points, two points behind the second-place Rangers (45-31-6). The winner of this best-of-seven series will face the Pittsburgh-Columbus survivor.

The Flyers and Rangers split the season series, with each team winning twice on its home ice. New York outscored the Flyers, 10-8.

 

The MSG hex

Much has been made about the Flyers' losing eight straight in Madison Square Garden since 2011. It should be pointed out, however, that the rest of the NHL hasn't had many problems this season at the Garden, where the Rangers actually had more losses (21) than wins (20).

 

The $64,000 (before inflation) question

Can Ray Emery do a commendable job replacing the injured Steve Mason? Mason was superb in three starts against the Rangers this season.

 

History

The teams have met in the playoffs 10 times, with the Flyers winning six of the series, including the last one in 1997.

 

The reunion

Vinny Lecavalier will be facing two Rangers who were his teammates with Tampa Bay when the Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup: Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis.

 

Injuries

Flyers: Mason and winger Steve Downie are day-to-day with undisclosed upper-body injuries.

Rangers: Winger Chris Kreider is expected to miss the first round after undergoing hand surgery. Derick Brassard, who scored a career-high 18 goals, left Tuesday's practice with a back injury but participated in Wednesday's practice and said he felt 100 percent.

 

The numbers

The Flyers averaged 2.84 goals per game and allowed 2.77, while the Rangers averaged 2.61 goals per game and surrendered 2.32.

New York has allowed two or fewer goals in eight straight against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden — and in 14 of its last 17 games overall in the series.

Lundqvist is 8-0 with a 1.13 GAA, a .960 save percentage, and two shutouts in his last eight games against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden.

The Flyers are 21-2-1 when Giroux scores a goal.

The Rangers are better on the road (25-14-2) than at home (20-17-4).

The Flyers won 50 percent of their faceoffs this season; the Rangers won 48.8 percent.

The Flyers had a better power play (19.7 percent success rate to the Rangers’ 18.2 percent), while New York had a slight edge on the penalty kill (85.3 percent to 84.8 percent).

 

Probable lineups

FLYERS

Lines

Scott Hartnell-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Michael Raffl-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Jason Akeson
Zac Rinaldo-Vinny Lecavalier-Adam Hall

Defense

Kimmo Timonen-Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit-Nick Grossmann
Andrew MacDonald-Luke Schenn

Goalie

Ray Emery

RANGERS

Lines

Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Rick Nash-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Jesper Fast
Brian Boyle-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett

Defense

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
John Moore-Kevin Klein

Poll

Can Ray Emery beat the Rangers?

Goalie

Henrik Lundqvist

 

The keys

For the Flyers: Getting traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist and producing some “dirty” goals — something they lacked in the season series.

For the Rangers: Having defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi shut down the Giroux line, as they did in the season.

 

The pick

The feeling here is that the Flyers will finally end their Madison Square Garden losing streak, but it won’t be enough because the Rangers are a great road team and will find a way to win at the Wells Fargo Center. Lundqvist never seems to give up any cheapies against the Flyers, and he will be the difference.

Choice: Rangers in seven.

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