It has been 17 years since the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers faced each other in the postseason. Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, the Flyers will look to exercise the demons and win their first game at MSG since 2011.
The two teams have met on ten separate occasions during the postseason. The Flyers have come away the victor in six of them. If history is kind to the orange and black, they advance to the second round with no. seven.
The Flyers will have to find a way to win at Madison Square Garden if they hope to win this series, and they will have to do without Steve Mason in the first game. Mason is out with an “upper-body injury.” The Flyers have stayed quiet about Mason’s injury, but there is some concern Mason suffered a concussion during a 4-3 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ray Emery will start Game 1. Aside from one bat outing against the Rangers this season, Emery is 7-2 against the Blueshirts during his career with a 1.87 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers.
Another key factor that will determine the outcome of this series is whether or not the Flyers can get scoring depth from their other lines. Too often, Claude Giroux has become the catalyst of the offense. If Giroux is shut down, the rest of the lines fall apart and produce little offense. During their most recent matchup, the Flyers’ fourth line generated the most offensive pressure. This does not, however, excuse Giroux. The captain needs to generate chances and assert himself.
The Flyers will also have to clog the neutral zone and suppress the speed of the Rangers. When the Rangers dump and chase, the defensemen will have to move the puck quickly and onto the tape. In recent years, teams that know how to play the Flyers will chip the puck into the zone and forecheck until the defense turns over the puck.