The New York Rangers will meet the Philadelphia Flyers for a Game 1 matchup at Madison Square Garden, and it should be a great series that bolsters the rivalry between both teams. The last time these two teams met, Wayne Gretzky was the Rangers' top center, and Eric Lindros was a force to be reckoned with on the Flyers.
There is no shortage of star power in this series, and the Rangers and Flyers won't pull any punches as soon as the puck drops during the game's first faceoff.
Head coaches Alain Vigneault and Craig Berube are both in the unique position of trying to command a team to playoff success in their new roles, and it will be an interesting matchup to watch throughout the series.
The Flyers have been dominated by the Rangers at M.S.G. for the last couple of years, but how will both teams fare in Game 1?
Where Can I Watch The Game?
Time: Thursday April 17, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
TV: MSG, CSN
Key Storylines for Game 1
The biggest storyline in this series is the fact that the Rangers have dominated the Flyers on home ice since March of 2011. Until the Flyers win a game against the Blueshirts on home-ice, broadcasters, journalists and fans will make this a talking point.
If the Flyers come out flat in Game 1, I can almost guarantee that a reporter will ask, "Is the fact that you haven't won a game in this building in three years weighing on your mind?" During the playoffs it seems that all curses and hexes go out the window, but the Rangers have to be chomping at the bit to get off to a fast start against the Flyers
Key Matchup: (NYR) Ryan McDonagh vs. (PHI) Claude Giroux
The Flyers have seven players who scored 20 or more goals this season, but as goes Giroux, so go the Flyers. He is an elite pivot who has an amazing shot, but he is also one of the NHL's top playmakers. He has a number of options at his disposal, so expect him to be a major facilitator of offense.
McDonagh is the Rangers' best defender, and along with Dan Girardi, he'll be tasked with shutting down Giroux. If McDonagh can neutralize Giroux, the Rangers will have an opportunity to disrupt the Flyers' offense and create some doubt within the Flyers' dressing room.
Goaltending Tale of The Tape
|Henrik Lundvist, NYR||30-37-0||2.28||.920|
|Ray Emery, PHI||20-15-0||2.57||.903|
Steve Mason will not be starting Game 1 because of an injury, according to Sarah Baicker of CSN, so it will be Ray Emery taking on Henrik Lundqvist. Emery historically has good numbers against the Rangers, and he also has playoff experience. Last season, he won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, and he played a vital role for them during the shortened season.
Lundqvist is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and he will look to get off to a hot start. The Rangers' success will partially rely on Lundqvist's ability to keep them in games, but a deeper offense this season should give him more of a margin for error than in previous years.
Rangers' Projected Lineup
Rick Nash | Derek Stepan | Martin St. Louis
Benoit Pouliot | Derick Brassard | Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin | Brad Richards | Jesper Fast
Brian Boyle | Dominic Moore | Dan Carcillo
Ryan McDonagh | Dan Girardi
Marc Staal | Anton Stralman
John Moore | Kevin Klein
Flyers' Projected Lineup
Scott Hartnell | Claude Giroux | Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl | Brayden Schenn | Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read | Sean Couturier | Jason Akeson
Zac Rinaldo | Vincent Lecavalier | Adam Hall
Kimmo Timonen | Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit | Nicklas Grossmann
Andrew MacDonald | Luke Schenn
Rangers Will Win If...
The Blueshirts will win Game 1 if they continue to play their game at home. The Rangers need to remain disciplined, play in the open ice and avoid getting involved in any shenanigans the Flyers may start. If the Blueshirts stay out of the box and play in the open ice, their skilled forwards will have no problem scoring goals and carrying the play.
Flyers Will Win If...
The Flyers will win if they make the Rangers play a slow and physical game. By no means are the Rangers soft, but they have a surplus of skill on their roster, and playing a slow physical game doesn't suit them.
If the Flyers start the game with a physical tone that slows the game to a crawl, they will have no problem neutralizing the Blueshirts' offense.
They will also win if—as pointed out by Sarah Baicker of CSN—Emery continues his dominant play against the Rangers.
Prediction: New York Rangers 3, Philadelphia Flyers 1
The Rangers have owned the Flyers at home, and until the Flyers win a game at M.S.G, you can't go wrong by picking the Rangers. Look for Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis to get a solid start in the playoffs, and count on Lundqvist providing the Blueshirts with another quality start against the Flyers at home.