How far will the Rangers get this season?

Series Preview: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Rangers Edge Flyers in Early Predictions

As the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers prepare to do post-season battle for the first time since Wayne Gretzky wore a Blueshirt, the matchup is as even as any first round series in the NHL.

On paper, the Rangers appear to have a slight edge, but as any fan knows, paper can go out the window in the NHL playoffs. Let’s take a look at three key areas to this series:


Advantage: New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist)

While Steve Mason has been a solid netminder for the Flyers this season, his final regular season game injury and the insertion of Ray Emery into the lineup for Game 1 could set the tone for the series. Frankly, there hasn’t been any stability in the Philadelphia nets since Ron Hextall (and perhaps John Vanbiesbrouck) and neither Mason nor Emery are going to solve that.

On the flip side, Henrik Lundqvist has been the model of consistency for the Rangers since he usurped the position from veteran Kevin Weekes following the 2004 lockout. Despite Lundqvist’s uncharacteristic first half of the season, where a contract renewal and new pads derailed his Vezina-caliber play, “The King” was one of (if not the) the best NHL goaltenders following the Olympics. Lundqvist has a clear advantage over Mason and Emery and may be the single most important factor to this series.



Advantage: Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers finished the regular season atop the standings for both penalty kill and power play (3rd and 8th, respectively). Led by a 19.7% success rate with the man advantage, the Flyers were able to be competitive all season despite a lackluster defense. New York will want to stay out of the penalty box as much as possible in this series.

For the Blueshirts, the special teams were good, just not as good. Finishing the regular season at 15th on the power play (18.2%) is a step in the right direction for the franchise, but they were unable to maintain the early season success through Game 82. On the penalty kill, however, the Rangers were dominant finishing 3rd in the NHL with a kill rate of 85.3%. An interesting twist is with Head Coach Alain Vigneault using scorers Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis on the PK, the Rangers have created a good number of shorthanded opportunities.

However, this edge still goes to Philadelphia.



Advantage: New York Rangers

Flyers Head Coach Craig Berube has paid his dues both as a player and head coach. Coming up through the ranks with the AHL Phantoms beginning in 2006, Berube has had success at every hockey level. This season has been no exception for the rookie NHL coach. Despite some bouncing around between the AHL and NHL as an assistant coach, Berube got the full-time gig after Peter Laviolette started the season 0-3-0. He has done a terrific job battling thru a changing lineup and managing some strong egos in the locker room. Can his collected demeanor last into the NHL playoffs? It’s difficult for any first year coach.

Across the ice, Vigneault is the model of consistency only a veteran coach can exude. In his first season on Broadway, Vigneault has managed a lack of true training camp, bad start, tough injuries, public contract disputes, and an average home record to secure the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and home ice advantage. “AV” coaches with the playoffs in mind. He doesn’t allow players to get too low or too high during the regular season, with the expectation that they continue that mindset into the postseason. It worked in Vancouver (despite falling just short of a Stanley Cup Championship) and has shown well in New York. At the same time, you often wish a little more emotion was shown by the demure bench-man. But that just isn’t AV’s way, so fans have to trust that there is a method to his lack of madness. One clear advantage here is experience. In 11 NHL seasons as full-time head coach, Vigneault has only missed the playoffs four times.

Get your tickets to Beyond the Ice featuring New York Rangers Alumni Nick Fotiu and Ron Greschner now!

Posted by Dan Akeson | April 17, 2014 at 04:47 pm

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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