Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sizing up the Flyers-Rangers series

Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer) Gallery: Sizing up the Flyers-Rangers series

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

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  • Can Ray Emery beat the Rangers?
    Yes. He has a 7-2 career record against them.
    No. He faces a tough task at the Garden.
    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.



    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.



    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



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


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


    Ray Emery



    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


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


    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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