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Goalie matchup favors Rangers on paper
Successful hockey teams generally rely heavily on their goaltending for a deep postseason run. Because it is the most important position on the ice, amNewYork examines the starting goalies for the Rangers and Flyers before their series opener at MSG tonight.
Although Lundqvist is under-.500 (30-37) during his postseason career, his lengthy experience sets him apart from most other netminders in the league. Over the past two seasons, he has started 32 playoff games, second only to Jonathan Quick's 38 for the Kings.
Sure, the knock on King Henrik is that he has never won a Stanley Cup or even appeared in the finals. Still, the former Vezina Trophy winner has been excellent for the Rangers in the playoffs, with a .920 save percentage and 2.28 goals against average in 67 career games. Over the past two seasons, those same numbers have been off the charts (.933 SV%, 2.03 GAA).
His numbers against the Flyers this season (2-1, .940 SV%) suggest that he will be stellar in the first round again.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, an upper-body injury will keep usual starter Steve Mason sidelined for Game 1 and potentially beyond.
Veteran Ray Emery, who made 21 starts this season, will step in tonight. While not the ideal starter, he has 35 postseason starts -- mostly with the Senators when he helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007. However, he gave up four goals on 35 shots in his only appearance against the Rangers back in January.
Mason, who the team surely hopes will be back later in the series, looked like he had a bright future ahead of him when he won the 2009 Calder Trophy, but things didn't really go as planned in Columbus. He regressed in each of the following four seasons and ultimately was traded at the 2013 deadline to the Flyers for backup goalie Michael Leighton and a 2015 third-round draft pick.
Although he started a total of just 17 games in the previous two seasons, Mason has enjoyed a resurgence in the City of Brotherly Love, tying a career-high in wins this season with 33.
Mason also fared well against the Rangers this season, going 2-1 with a .937 save percentage.