The Flyers played the New York Rangers well this season, setting up a perfect matchup if the two face off in the first round.
There is a long list of opponents the Flyers could face during the first round of the playoffs. It will all depend on what seed they finish with during the round-robin. They can end up no lower than four, with a chance to grab the top seed in the conference.
Finishing with the number one seed would give them the chance to play the lowest seed to make it out of the round-robin. But if they end up facing a team like the New York Rangers, they could be in good shape.
They did have one more game to go in the season series, however, the season was paused before they could play said game. But the other three games gives us a look at how dominant the Flyers were against one of their rivals.
The two teams didn’t meet for the first time until December. The Flyers were coming off of three straight wins, one being two nights prior in a shootout against Ottawa. It was the first time that Kevin Hayes was taking on his former team. And he shined against them.
December 23rd: 5-1 Flyers
While the Flyers dominated this game, it was the Rangers that would tally the first goal. That wouldn’t come until the second period, though. Jesper Fast put New York on the board with what turned out to be their only goal of the game. It came shorthanded. It would hold up as the only goal of the period until just two seconds were remaining.
Travis Sanheim tied things up just before the clock hit zero. That was a precursor to what the Flyers would do in the final frame. And it was the clear momentum swing that the team used going forward
Sanheim would grab another in the third while Hayes scored twice as well. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, getting some rare powerplay time, grabbed the final goal in the last minute. It was his first in the NHL. It turned out to be a dominant performance for the Flyers as they won their fourth straight game heading into the Christmas break.
The game could have gotten even more out of hand as the Flyers had six power-play opportunities. The biggest plus of the game was the fact that Artemi Panarin was held pointless for the first time in seven games. And that wouldn’t be the last time they limited him either.
February 28th: 5-2 Flyers
The Flyers once again came in on a hot winning streak, this time at four games. The Rangers were on their own streak as well. They came in with eight wins in a row on the road. Things would once again begin with a Fast goal before Philly rattled off five straight goals.
It was a rare mistake from Carter Hart as he couldn’t control the original shot. Fast knocked it out of mid-air to give the Rangers their only lead. Hart shut it down from there, stopping the next 25 shots. Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux put on a show for the home fans, helping them to their league-leading 23rd win at home.
Voracek and Giroux combined for six points. Voracek tied a career-high with four assists. The Rangers would lose Chris Kreider to a broken foot as he blocked a Philippe Myers shot in the first period. James van Riemsdyk, Hayes, and Sean Couturier would round out the scoring for Philly.
With the game out of reach, Brett Howden grabbed his ninth of the season with less than thirty seconds on the clock. While the Flyers wouldn’t hold Panarin pointless in this game, this did hold him scoreless. He had the only assist on Fast’s first-period goal.
Things would get slightly better for New York when the met the Flyers again in March. They would still end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, however.
March 1st: 5-3 Flyers
It was just two days later that the two teams would meet for what turned out to be the final time that season. It was the Flyers who would get the scoring started first, rattling off four straight goals. Three out of the four came on special teams.
Matt Niskanen started things off less than two minutes into the game, grabbing his eighth of the season. He ended up jumping up in the play, potting in an Aube-Kubel rebound.
Michael Raffl would end up scoring a shorthanded goal, with some help from Derek Grant. Grant would also get his first goal as a part of the Flyers, setting up a two-point affair. The Rangers did make it interesting in the third period.
Down 5-1 entering the final frame, Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad fired off back-to-back powerplay goals to bring the score to 5-3 with over eight minutes remaining. But Hart was able to hold them off as Philly would complete the home-and-home sweep. It would end up giving them the season series sweep as well.
For the third straight game against, Panarin was help without a goal. He did grab two assists, giving him a total of three points against Philadelphia this season.
Limiting a top player like that was a big factor in the Flyers’ dominance over the Rangers. If they end up facing them in the first round, that will be something to look for. They would force New York to look towards someone else to lead them.
The Rangers come into the playoffs as the 11th seed. So if the Flyers end up as the top seed, there is a big possibility they could face New York. That is unless the Canadiens upset the Penguins in their series. It would be an upset for the Rangers too as they take on the sixth-seeded Hurricanes.
If the two do meet up in the first round, the Flyers have quite the resume that would lead one to believe they could handle the Rangers in a seven-game series.