Rangers-Flyers is always a battle - a bruising, Rocky-esque prize fight.
Rangers-Flyers in the playoffs? That'll be a war. The type that leaves only a wasteland of flaming devastation.
The teams split their season series this year, and the bad blood that has fueled this rivalry for years was evident in each. These two flat out don't like each other. And now, after the Rangers bested the Flyers by two points in the Metropolitan Division, they'll meet for - probably - seven.
It'll be vicious. It'll be violent. It'll be cruel. It'll be must-watch, appointment television.
Keys for the Rangers
- The Blueshirts boast the better roster, but not the more physical one. The Flyers will try to use their size and physicality to disrupt the Rangers, who have failed, too often, to rise to the physical challenge thrown down by their opponents. New York will need to figure out how to do it in this series, though, otherwise they'll be, literally, beaten down by the Bullies. Players like Carcillo, Boyle, Girardi, Staal, and even Zuccarello - though he be but little, he is fierce - will need to stand up for their side.
- Henrik Lundqvist will be in net. Ryan McDonagh will be healthy and on the blueline. The Rangers will defend. Will they score, though? The Blueshirts were inconsistent in that regard this year and, acquired to help put the puck into the back of the net, Martin St. Louis has disappointed since becoming a Ranger. He, Rick Nash, and others will need to step up and be the superstars they're meant to be for New York to make it through to the next round - particularly on the man advantages the Flyers' loose style of play will afford them.
Keys for the Flyers:
- The Rangers have been inconsistent scoring goals? The Flyers have been consistently unable to defend - giving up almost three goals per game and finishing 20th in the league in that category. And now, their goalie is hurt. Steve Mason will miss at least the first game of the series with an upper body injury, leaving the goaltending duties to backup Ray Emery. The Rangers' defense and goaltending being what it is, the Flyers won't light up scoreboard. They'll need to find a way to keep the Blueshirts off it as well if they want to advance.
Prediction: It'll be long. It'll be tough. It'll be close. But, in the end, I expect Martin St. Louis to be better than he has been, and I expect Henrik Lunqvist to be exactly who he's been. Rangers in 7.