Rangers-Flyers matchups: position by position

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Here are my first-round position-by-position matchups:

FORWARDS:

Let’s face it. Up front, the Flyers are going to be able to thump the Rangers, who don’t possess the physical element the Flyers, or most teams, have. The Rangers rely on speed and pressure.

And, if the Rangers’ top guys don’t play better than they did most of the season, the Flyers are more skilled up front too. That could change if Rick Nash is much, much better than he was in the playoffs last season, and if Martin St. Louis is much, much better than he was since coming over at the trade deadline for Ryan Callahan, who will be missed in a series like this, as will injured Chris Kreider. Depth-wise, the Rangers’ third line (Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and Benoit Pouliot) has been its best and most competitive all season long, and their fourth line has been fabulously effective since about December.

Claude Giroux is arguably the best forward in the series and the Flyers led the NHL with seven 20-goal scorers. Vinny Lecavalier heated up late and Jacub Voracek is dangerous. The Flyers will jam and bump Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers’ D. Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell play a physical game with skill – though they haven’t had a lot of success against the Rangers and indeed get distracted. And the Flyers, as always, employ some real clowns, such as Zac Rinaldo, coming off a suspension. Though he might injure somebody, the Rangers are going to mostly be happy when he’s on the ice.

EDGE: Flyers.

DEFENSEMEN:

Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen are probably Philadelhia’s top two defensemen, and you wouldn’t trade any of the Rangers’ top three for either of them. Obviously, Ryan McDonagh is the best D-man on either team, but he’s coming back from a shoulder injury, and while he says he’s 100 percent, that remains to be seen. Philly is sure to target him even more than usual.

But McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are going to see major minutes in this series, again, as usual. John Moore probably stays in and Raphael Diaz likely goes out with McDonagh’s return. Anton Stralman had a solid year mostly with Staal, as did Kevin Klein, mostly with Moore, after being acquired for Michael Del Zotto. Andrew MacDonald, acquired from the Islanders, has fortified Philadelphia’s defense, and ex-Isles captain Mark Streit is a power-play weapon (he scored 20 goals). But overall, it’s no contest.

EDGE: Rangers.

GOALTENDING:

Philadelphia’s bugaboo since, oh, 1975, has been right at this position. Steve Mason has been better than most of the guys the Flyers have brought in over the years – even if they had Sergei Bobrovsky, who went on to win a Vezina Trophy for Columbus. But now he’s out with a probable concussion. The Flyers hope he will play at some point. If not, it falls to Ray Emery, who won a Cup as a backup last year in Chicago and can be streaky either way.

No matter who they have in goal, though, the Rangers were going to have a big advantage here. For years, Henrik Lundqvist has frustrated the Flyers (and other teams, too). The Rangers’ best player had his worst season, but his second half was pretty darn good if not excellent. He’s ready to roll.

EDGE: Rangers.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Both teams are statistically good 5-on-4 and 4-on-5. Philly ranked eighth in the NHL in power play (19.7) and seventh on the penalty kill (84.8), scoring eight short-handed goals.

The Rangers were 15th on the power play (18.2) but that really dipped from mid-January on. They failed to score a power-play goal in 21 of their final 30 games. And if there’s a way to deter the Flyers’ shenanigans, it would be to score on the power play. To not score would give the Flyers a green light.

The Rangers’ penalty kill was far more effective down the stretch, finishing third in the NHL at 85.3 percent with 10 short-handed goals.

EDGE: Flyers.

COACHING:

Alain Vigneault has a ton of playoff experience, including a trip to the Stanley Cup final, where his Canucks lost to Boston in seven games in 2011. However, since going up 3-2 in that series, Vigneault’s playoff record is 1-10.

Still, he has had a terrific first season in New York, rebounding from a 3-6 start to finish second, while he instilled a speed-kills system. It’ll be worth watching how that works in the rugged East.

Craig Berube, a long-time Flyers enforcer, took over for fired Peter Laviolette three games into the season and after an 0-7 start, finished third.

EDGE: Rangers.

PREDICTION: Rangers in 6.

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photo by Getty Images.

 

 

 

 

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345 Comments

  1. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Carped…

    Eddie
    I think the rangers have a better chance against the pens than the jackets

    I am so sick of hearing about the stupid blue jackets on the blog

    Reasons enough for me

  2. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Wicky – fair enough. I think our boys best either team. The gnash would be good against CBJ…so I’ll root for CBJ. Besides I hate the pens more than anything in this world.

    Btw, what time is Vancouver’s game? I can’t find a starting time anywhere!!!!

  3. Ranger-on-the-Isle on

    Nice play & pass by Dubi – MAF looked like he wanted to be someplace else during the anthem. A couple more goals like that and he may be.

  4. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    I think torts requested a later start time so he could walk his dog…keep looking ;)

  5. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Ranger goal, number 16, his 5th of the game, Derick Brasssssssssssssarrrrrrrddddddddd

  6. heya carp!!! u rock brotha! u da man!

    wicksy- thanks and thanks? im sorry i beat ya in the frozen brain league! ;)

    orr- call grabby

  7. ThisYearsModel on

    So glad to see Dubinsky dangle the enormously overrated Paul Martin on the Jackets’ first goal. Martin has been built up to an absurd level for years. Penguins are playing a 1-2-2 and their D are hanging back, and they have still surrendered 2 already.

  8. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    Oh man. That scrum in the Tampa game there?? Exactly what we don’t want tomorrow. Exactly what the Filth wants.

    That’s my big scare.

  9. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    TYM??? VIbin’.

    Paul Martin? Not as good as the press surrounding him. Not at all.

  10. Carp, nice breakdown. This series and all that follow (hopefully) will depend on The Good One, the Little One and the Toothsome one performing like they’re paid to perform.

    And btw, I’m rooting for Cally. Then again I would have paid him.

  11. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    They keep calling Pitt on such, Mario will call Gary in a bit.

    “It’s not fair, Gary. Stop them!”

  12. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Pierre – “glass called for interference – and I’m not happy about it”

  13. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    It’s not the nose…..it’s the ‘nasal passages’.

  14. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Doc – “and Crosby wanted a penalty called there”

    Wow, is that ever a surprise.

  15. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    JR: “If we can emerge with no injuries we can win.”

  16. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    It’s too bad hitting the glass isn’t a goal. Imagine how many HOF’ers we’d have.

  17. ” Boone Jenner is farmer strong”

    Thank you Pierre, for reminding us that you are a talking Richard.

  18. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    And tomorrow night will be the obligatory Dom Moore, “do ya know where he went to school, Pierre?” comment.

  19. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    Is there a reason to play the Anaheim v. Dallas series??

  20. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    Word has it that NBC has flown Chico to Anaheim to handle tonight’s game. “Oh, Marty, with the great save”

  21. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    Benn, Seguin, and what army can beat The Ducks? Hot happening, Anson.

  22. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    JR: “The playoff’s are all about goaltending and I like Philadelphia”

  23. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    Sather just saw that errant shot by Kunitz and is already pondering an offer to Mario.

  24. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    JR: “As long as you get the shot off it matters more than hitting the net”

  25. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    JR: “Put it on goal or not, it’s still a shot”

  26. To be fair Rangers fans would be chanting “these refs suck” if there was no call on that on a Ranger. Game has been called pretty fairly so far though.

  27. I wish John Davidson was the NYR GM… He’s got more hockey sense in his pinky than Sather has in his whole body.

  28. CBJ have 34 hits through two periods. NYR didn’t have that many in the month of March.

  29. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    Really saddens me that most all the ‘pundits’, when handicapping our series with the Flyers, give the edge in the ‘forwards’ category to the Flyers. How much MORE does our offense cost than theirs?

    IF I were Nash, Richards, and MSL, I’d be embarrassed.

  30. 14-1 odds for blues I bet last July. Down on them right now.

    Habs/sharks cup final if I had to guess now.

  31. This is some game in Tampa!

    As an aside, we should be thankful that NYR don’t give up nearly the amount of chances we’ve seen in these games.

  32. Are the Rangers the only team that announces goals without any theatrics from the PA announcer? Every other team does it. Devils are one of the worst.

  33. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Latona – TB or Mont won’t make it out of the second round at this rate….Rangers vs Detroit ECF

    Book it

  34. ORR!! What Is It Good For!!??

    Late PP for the Habs. Better not ruin OT for us!

    And the shootout! (s)

  35. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Doc – “you win 4 and you’re halfway there”

    Doc needs to learn some arithmetic

  36. I said it earlier, but CBJ look like they have no plan. Playing hard, but without a plan.

  37. Only thing worse then losing to flyers is watching flyers/pens in two weeks. I may jump.

  38. I don’t really think the Penguins are that good. They’ve given up 4 to a not so great CBJ team here

  39. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Latona – chalk it up to first game drama…hopefully they’ll figure it out…

  40. boxcareddiehospodar on

    Hope the Penguins series goes to 7.

    I get to watch Dubinsky beat the crap out of Crosby for 7 games and the Penguins will have nothing left.

    Too bad we never hired JD as our GM!!!

  41. Cally will probably score in OT in his first game postseason game as a Bolt, simply because he never did that for NYR.

  42. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    Jack Johnson could benefit from some J Moops skating lessons. A bit slow he is.

  43. Matty"BubbleWrapRitchieRocket!!!!!!"Boy on

    I believe CBJ can win a game. They’re a good draw for Pens.

  44. His the hell does butch goring get in btwn the benches to call the ducks game with the caps radio announcer. Nice crew lol

  45. turned on Ducks game, heard Butch Goring’s voice (wtb if he doing in Anaheim) and immediately shut it off

  46. Dale Weise rules. We gave up on him. Canucks gave up on him. So obviously…

    Torts hates Weise

  47. Playoff hero dale weise lol.

    By the way rather home team or stars feed then these two clowns. God awful

  48. Who the hell did Jordie Benn think he was? Only Lidstrom could have got a slap shot through traffic like that.

  49. Yeah, Manny, I’m surprised the officials didn’t even appear to consult one another about that.

  50. Strap was broken when the puck hit his face = Mask off

    Doesn’t have to be off his head.

  51. Dubie with some cheap shots tonight, but they were mostly on LiverLips, so I’ll give him a pass.

  52. Players make a pittance for Playoffs. Owners trade in their yachts that got wet last summer and order new ones.

  53. I don’t know, ORR. Didn’t work out well for Buffalo so far unless you count 14 Real Wins out of 82 chances a success.

  54. 3C – pass the kalashnikov and don’t let anyone in without the password (rinaldoeatsthebigone)

  55. Read a Wall Street Journal Hockey article today and guess who’s handing out all the quotes – the ubiquitous #19.

  56. Kind of want to see the Ducks keep scoring. Perry and Getzlaf have *chemistry*

    LOLOLOL how awkward was that interview with Ruff?

  57. Sioux – Interesting little article in the May ‘Atlantic,’ (“Where the Card Sharks Feed”) Not worth buying the mag. Maybe you can find it online.

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