Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flyers-vs-Rangers? They better hope not

The Flyers have to be knocking themselves upside their helmeted heads (think Gibbs upsiding DiNozzo) over letting their game with the Rangers get away. At least that's the way they looked at it.
... (Refer back to Peter Laviolette's comments about the Flyers being "dominant" in the last 40 minutes of their 5-3 loss to the Rangers Tuesday, or Claude Giroux's "we know we can beat them if we play our best" kind of quotes from that same game) ...
I think that's all optimistic foolhardiness.
The Flyers don't match up with the Rangers.
Plain and Simple.
They have lost six out of six to them this year, the first time they were swept by New York in 40 years.
They also have lost their last eight straight to the Rangers, dating to a 7-0 blowout loss at Madison Square Garden March 6, 2011.
I remember covering that game up there and it seemed like an anomoly. Just a bad day. You know, like Roman Cechmanek used to have at least once a playoff series.
But since that blowout loss two Marches ago at the Garden the Flyers are 0-8 to the Rangers and have been outscored 34-13.
Know we can beat them if we play our best?
Yeah, maybe next year.
For now, they have to hope that in a pending Eastern Conference playoff tournament that appears to be more about matchups than any in recent memory, these Flyers don't match up very well with these Rangers. And from a playoff perspective, the Rangers have the edge or an outright advantage in all three key, playoff-important areas -- in goal, on defense and on special teams.
Then there are the Penguins, the Flyers' likely first-round hosts. Against them, the Flyers have a slight edge in goal if Bryzgalov's foot pain goes away. They also have, I think, a bit of an edge on special teams (for a club with Malkin and Crosby, the Pens should be better on the power play than they are), and perhaps defensively, too, even with the Flyers hurting there.
That series, I think, will be a long one and though it's far from certain, I'd say the Flyers would be a slight favorite.
But if they survive, they'll be hoping to somehow miss the Rangers down the road.
l l l
Don't count on injury slowing that Rangers machine down. Yes, Henrik Lundqvist hurt himself in the game against the Flyers, but he played through it late in the game.
"Yeah, that one hurt," Lundqvist said afterward while putting ice on his forearm. "I was struggling all third period. I told Martin (Biron) to be ready just in case I couldn't go. A couple of times I was like I'm out of here. I can't really hold a stick. It was tough in the third. Luckily they didn't shoot any hard ice shots, that would have been tough for me. I wanted to stay out there. It was a fun game. I just tried to battle."
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Good Wayne Simmonds quote that I missed Tuesday night, referring to the bad-starts syndrome that still plagues his team and their ohfer on the year against the Rangers:
"Obviously, I think we shot ourselves in the foot again with our start," Simmonds said. "The first five minutes I thought we were good and then they scored that goal and it kind of fell apart."
on the Rangers' sweep:
"It burns," Simmonds said. "Yeah, it's definitely a team you don't want to lose to, six games especially, and I know for myself and everyone on this team it's eating us up."


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