The Rangers’ first round series with the Flyers begins on Thursday, and amNewYork looked ahead at the best-of-seven contest with Ron Duguay, ex-Ranger and current hockey analyst for MSG Networks’ Rangers pregame and postgame shows.
What are your thoughts on the series?
We know that the Flyers are gonna try to get the Rangers to fall into their game plan, which is “Let’s battle.” If the Flyers just come out and play hard, play physical, and win man-to-man battles, the Rangers are gonna have a hard time matching up against them. That’s why I think this series is gonna go long, and it’ll be really close.
When you shape up both sides — strengths and weakness — the Rangers have Lundqvist, great team play, and four lines that can play. Then you look at the Flyers — their weakness could potentially be their goaltending. Their biggest strength is Claude Giroux. He is reminding me of Bobby Clark and how he led that team. Not only is he playing great, but he’s providing a lot of leadership.
How do the Rangers go about limiting Giroux’s effectiveness?
You have to be physical with him, get him off his game. You can’t let Claude Giroux dictate how this series plays out … you’ve got to get in his face, you’ve got to get chippy with him, get him to retaliate.
The Flyers are a physical team. Do you think the Rangers have an identity?
They have balance and they are a hard working team. … As long as [players on the fourth line] don’t take stupid penalties — like [Dan] Carcillo or [Derek] Dorsett — their job is to finish their checks and draw penalties. Get someone to slash you, step away, put your team on the power play. That’s your job.
Can the Rangers neutralize right winger Wayne Simmonds in front of the net?
If they put their mind to it — they’re not a mean core defensively, but they’re smart and they’re big enough and have enough strength. A lot of that stuff is calculated. Try to catch him as he’s coming to the net. You’ve gotta push him, cut him off, direct him. You try not to let him go plant himself right in front of the net.
What does Martin St. Louis have to do to be effective in the series on offense?
Just be clever with the puck, as he normally is. We’ve started to see him make some great plays that have resulted in goals. You’d like to see him score goals, but if he’s not scoring, he’s managing the puck correctly. . . . He knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.
Do you have a prediction for the Stanley Cup?
Out of the East, everyone is picking Boston. There could potentially be an upset there with Detroit. I’m sure they didn’t want to match up against Detroit, but I’m gonna do what everyone else is doing and I’m gonna go with Boston. Out of the West, there’s three teams, maybe four.