MSG, New York – Wednesday night the Rangers punched their ticket to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a hard fought 2-1 win over the Flyers. For their part, the Flyers get to go back to their sucktastic city and watch the rest of the playoffs on television. The Blueshirts were the better team for most of the series. They should have won game 2, being up by two goals, until they started playing into the Flyers’ physical game. They let the Flyers hang around in the second period and before they knew it, the Rangers were behind and on their way to a loss.
In game 6, the Rangers were dominant early until Benoit Poulliot (these Frenchies are wearing thin on me. Sorry Marcel Dionne) took one of the dumbest penalties in history which completely changed the momentum of the game. The Rangers’ lack of discipline almost cost them the series. They escaped because the Flyers were even less disciplined. Going forward, the Rangers will definitely need to stay out of the box to have a shot at Olympic diving legend Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Giving Crosby the extra space provided by the man advantage is a surefire way to some early tee times.
They’ll also need some production out of Rick “Casper” Nash, who was nonexistent against the Flyers. In game 7, you could sense Marty St. Louis growing as frustrated with Rick Nash as the fans had become. Nash looks like he has no interest in scoring or hustling at all. He looks like he is afraid of doing anything that might lead to him suffering another concussion. Hopefully he snaps out of it against the Penguins.
In goal, the Rangers will need better play from Henrik Lundqvist against the Penguins. He wasn’t bad against the Flyers, but he wasn’t great either. And in the playoffs you need a goalie that can steal a game. Henrik hasn’t shown that he can this year. Tuukka Rask of Cheesy’s Bruins is a goalie that can steal a game. Even though he didn’t show that quality last night, getting beat by PK “Power Play” Subban in the second overtime period to hand Les Habitants a 1-0 series lead. Hopefully Henrik can do better than Tukka did last night.
The Blueshirts will also need to get the power play going in this coming series. An 0 for 20 stretch against the Flyers almost put them out of the playoffs against a Flyers team that the Rangers were, in my opinion, a lot better than. But the Rangers had trouble even setting up their power play. They were dreadful in face-offs with the man advantage and when they won the puck they had trouble getting into an offensive rhythm in the Flyers zone. A lot of credit needs to be given to Philadelphia for being well organized and aggressive on the penalty kill.
I want to see a bit more from Brad Richards against the Penguins. Considering who he was on a line with in the Flyers series, I guess he played pretty well. Carl Hagelin was, by far, the worst player on the Rangers against Philadelphia. And the rotation of Jesper Fast, Daniel Carcillo, and JT Miller on the other wing didn’t do much to help Richards get into a rhythm.
Hopefully the Rangers defensemen can keep Malkin and Crosby at bay. They did a good job against Giroux, Lecavalier and company, but the Penguins are on another level. I guess we’ll find out how the Rangers match up tonight.
Tune in tomorrow for our King Henry, Junoir Blaber… And if you missed yesterday’s Exclusive Meet The Matts Radio phone call with Donald Sterling and Mad Dog, here it is: