NY Rangers Clinch 1st in East with Series Sweep over Philadelphia Flyers

Cat ZambitoContributor IApril 4, 2012

Len Redkoles/Getty Images
Len Redkoles/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers showed their grit Sunday night in a 6-4 win against their rival Pittsburgh Penguins that extended not only to the players, but also to the coaches.   

New York Rangers fans couldn't have been happier with this victory, because it denied the Penguins any additional points towards the race for first place in the Atlantic Division. 

The Rangers could have clinched that top spot Sunday night but fell short 2-1 to the Boston Bruins.  They started out strong with an early goal but then lost momentum as the game progressed and allowed the Bruins to tie them up in the neutral zone and deny them many future attempts to charge the net. 

That was not the case Tuesday night, however, with the Flyers vs. Rangers game.  

The Rangers once again scored early in the game but then piled on three additional goals before heading to the locker room for the first period intermission. 

That dominance definitely quieted down the Wells Fargo Center despite all the fights that erupted throughout. The Flyers are known for their aggressive and often dirty style of play, but the Rangers were quick to shut them down, as seen early in the game when Brandon Prust defended Marian Gaborik when Wayne Simmonds got a little too rough with the Rangers' star player. 

Penalties were abundant on both sides (especially high-sticking calls), but the Rangers capitalized on three of their power play opportunities.

Things got a little harried as the Flyers seemed to be gaining speed against them, but "King Henrik" Lundqvist and the Rangers were able to hold them off and complete a six-game straight series sweep against them this season, defeating them 5-3.

They also were able to clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference as a result of the win (a feat that hasn't been seen since the 1993-94 days).

The Rangers can rest a little easier now, knowing they are secure in that top position.  However, if they want to beat their best record of 112 points, they need to come out strong and win both Thursday night's matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Saturday night's game against the Washington Capitals.

This last stretch of tough games before the postseason will continue to prepare them for a little playoff hockey (especially considering there is a good chance they will play the Capitals in the first round).

With the Vancouver Canucks' win Tuesday night, the Rangers are tied for first overall in the league with 109 points, and there is no denying that the excitement and anticipation are through the roof in New York right now.