They say that game 1 and game 3 of a playoff series are critical for a team's ability to win playoff series but in this year's match up between the Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers, game 2 is an almost must win for the Rangers.
For starters comes the most obvious which is denying the Flyers any thoughts that they can win at Madison Square Garden. Let's not kid ourselves the players are human and they are going to see it plastered all over the media whether it be online, TV, sportstalk or social how the Flyers haven't won at Madison Square Garden since 2011.
It will creep into their thoughts if the Rangers were to take a lead especially having Henrik Lundqvist in goal for the Rangers come the 3rd period. Still the Rangers must not get overconfident and take this game for granted.
To Win the Rangers MUST:
Stay out of the penalty box as the Flyers get 25% of their offense from their very potent power play. The Rangers did a great job playing with discipline and not allowing the Flyers to to goad them into taking bad penalties.
Cut down on the giveaways as the Rangers got lucky that the Flyers did not make them pay for having 16 giveaways. Rangers must play a smarter game and stop trying to force passes into the middle of the ice.
Start fast and stay on top of the Flyers as the Rangers should be setting both tone and tempo on their own home ice. Make the Flyers play a game they are not used to playing which is chasing after the Rangers.
Protect Henrik Lundqvist as the Flyers are going to try to rattle him by running him every chance they get. Someone besides Mats Zuccarello needs to stand up and let the Flyers know that running Henrik (or any Ranger) will be tolerated.
No passengers on Sunday as everyone who dresses needs to show up ready to play and keep skating. Old school hockey rule number 1 is that the refs will never call the player who keeps moving his skates but they will the players who aren't skating.
Get a big game out of Rick Nash to build his confidence up as while Nash took 7 shots in game 1 only 2 were even close to being scoring chances. The Rangers are going to need Rick Nash if they want to make any noise in the playoffs but just 2 career playoff goals in 17 NHL playoff games can't be acceptable.
The Rangers do need to find a way to get Nash going and if they do then the Flyers will be in trouble.
Keep a body in the crease to annoy Ray Emery who has a history of emotional outburts so follow the Derek Brassard lead and stay in Emery's line of sight. Get a goal or 2 early and Emery's confidence will get rocked. At the same time not doing this and making it easy for Emery to see the puck will have the opposite effect.