The Rangers will begin their Stanley Cup run when the puck drops tomorrow night at the Garden, and amNewYork takes an in-depth look at their first round matchup against the Flyers, highlighting some keys for the Blueshirts.
Giroux is on fire
Claude Giroux has quickly become a household name, finishing third in the NHL in points (86) and fourth in assists (58) this season. The 26-year-old center can fly, and he beats opposing goaltenders in a multitude of ways. He most likely will be the Flyer with the target on his back in this series.
Although the Rangers are used to contending with a premier offensive player in the postseason, as they have met the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin the last four times they have made the playoffs, Giroux is an equally tough assignment. In fact, a case can be made that Giroux is even harder to contain because of his incredible passing and playmaking abilities.
Ruin Wayne’s world
Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds carves out a nice home in front of the net, and is arguably the best in the NHL at doing so. The 25-year-old bruiser was especially effective on the Flyers’ No. 7 ranked power play, finishing third in the league with 15 goals.
If he gets his way and sets up right in front, he will make life very difficult for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers. Top defenseman Ryan McDonagh will likely draw this tough assignment.
Two to tango
The regular season series between these two teams was chippy, to say the least. The two totaled 191 penalty minutes and four fights in the four games, which played right into the Flyers’ hands. Known as the “Broad Street Bullies” in the 1970s, today’s Flyers also love to hit, drop the gloves and get a little dirty.
The Rangers clearly were agitated by the Flyers during the regular season, taking five 10-minute misconducts and 107 penalty minutes overall. Although the two teams split the season series, each team won both of their home games, making the seventh game of the series at the Garden all the more pivotal. This one will go the distance, but the Rangers will find a way to win the last game at MSG.
Prediction: Rangers in seven