At 7:00pm the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers will face off at Madison Square Garden in a winner-take-all Game Seven. The winner will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
The Flyers played their best game of the series last night to force tonight’s game. They defeated the Rangers, 5-2, on the backs of a Wayne Simmonds hat trick and a dominating performance by Steve Mason.
The Rangers did play very well in the first period and forced nine Flyers giveaways. The Rangers will try to duplicate that effort while forgetting about last night’s second period.
Here are three keys to victory for the Philadelphia Flyers:
Early Lead: The Flyers cannot chase the game tonight. Last night they, luckily, gained an early lead and they were able to ride it to victory. The Rangers are a markedly different team when they are ahead. They have the defense and goaltender to shut the opponent down and protect a lead. When they are trailing, however, they are more prone to forcing the play and making defensive mistakes.
Goaltending Battle: Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the world. Steve Mason will have to outplay him tonight to give the Flyers a chance. Mason was superb last night and will have to carry that over into tonight’s game. Although Mason has been good in the second half of back-to-backs this season (better than Lundqvist), he will have to battle fatigue. Mason saw 37 shots yesterday while Lundqvist only saw 23 shots before sitting in the third period.
Special Teams: The Flyers will have to win the special teams battle if they want to advance. Last night’s second period was one of the only times in this series in which the Flyers were better than the Rangers at five-on-five. With the personnel the Rangers have and the fact that Alain Vigneault will have the last change, the Flyers will have to be superb on special teams. Last night the Flyers recorded two power play goals and killed off five power plays. That is the kind of efficiency that will be crucial tonight.