Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Round One - Bring On The Flyers!


National Hockey League

Eastern Conference Quarter Final:

Philadelphia Flyers
Madison Square Garden
33rd Street at 8th Avenue


NEW YORK RANGERS: The Broad Street Bullies Bringing Their Neanderthal Hockey League Style Back To The Garden.

Previously - King Henrik: Kingdom For a Cup

If it was scoring Tex's Rangers lacked in previous post-season runs, I have news for you.  We got duped again.  As I stated in my previous post, the 2011-12 Rangers scored 226 regular season goals, which ranked 13th in the league.  This year's Rangers may have improved the power play under Alain Vigneault, but they only scored 218 regular season goals, which dropped them to 18th in the league.  In a backhanded way, that speaks of their diminished even strength capabilities, doesn't it?

But, these are Glen Sather's retooled Rangers now - not to be confused with the rebuilt Rangers of two seasons ago.  This will be Martin St. Louis' 1st, Rick Nash's 2nd, and Brad Richards' 3rd time through the playoffs as members of the New York Rangers.  

Mats Zucarrello and Derek Stepan led the team with 59 and 57 points respectively.  But, let's put the onus where it belongs, shall we?  Together for the first time, it is incumbent upon Richards, Nash, and St. Louis, to generate much of the Rangers scoring from here on out.  They must be difference makers every night.  They certainly weren't brought here to be high priced accessories to Mats Zucarrello and Derek Stepan.  Were they?

Brad Richards is turning 34-years old in May.  He gave the Rangers 20 goals this season, which isn't far off his average.  However, outside of last year's shortened season, he posted a career low 31 assists.  Although he joined Stepan and Zucs as the only three Rangers to exceed 50 points, his 51 points were also his lowest over a full 82 game season.

Rick Nash, 29, remains an anomaly.  He missed 17 games this season, and still managed to lead the team with 26 goals, but only tallied 13 assists, and 39 total points.  In only 44 games last season, he still managed 21 assists.  Nash and Richards were the two lone Rangers to reach or exceed 20 goals this season.

Martin St. Louis will turn 39-years old in June.  Yet, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.  He's had a marvelous career, and was having a very good season, right up until Glen Sather got his hands on him.  The Rangers seem to have that effect on players; Chris Drury; Scott Gomez; et al.

Yet the fact remains, all but one of the Rangers 218 regular season goals were scored by someone other than Martin St. Louis.  In 19 games since arriving off-Broadway, he scored one goal.  At the very least, St. Louis must make up for the loss of Chris Kreider.  Without Kreider, the Rangers lost a measure of size, speed, and scoring, which Martin needs to compensate for in the upcoming tournament.


The Rangers bring the NHL's 15th rated (18.2%) power play, versus Philadelphia's 7th ranked (84.8%) penalty kill.  The other way, The Flyers boast the 7th ranked (19.8%) power play, versus the Rangers 3rd (85.3%) ranked penalty kill.

The Flyers boast the league's 8th ranked offense, but scored just one more goal than they allowed this season.  The Rangers had a +25 differential, and ranked 18th with 2.6 goals per game.

Philadelphia ranked 20th in goals allowed, while the Rangers placed 4th in the league.  In the Eastern Conference, only the Boston Bruins allowed less goals than New York.


The BlueLiners will have their hands full.  The Flyers feature 7 players with 20 goals or more. Wayne Simmonds led the team with 29 goals, while Claude Giroux led the team with 58 assists and 86 points.  As a team, they scored 236 times.  Only 3 Eastern Conference teams scored more.

But, as we know, the Broad Street Bullies are brutish about their business, so I'm sure a return to the good 'ol days of the Neanderthal Hockey League looms ahead.  The Flyers are going to instigate, agitate and aggravate, all series long.  I expect them to be raucous, and obnoxious.

Glen Sather stripped the team of its toughness, or so says me.  We will now see to what degree. The Flyers already possess an ability to push most Blueshirts off the puck as it is.  But I would also advise Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Mats Zucarrello, Rick Nash, and others, to have eyes installed in the backs of their heads.  Laser beams wouldn't hurt either.  The Flyers dress up at least four expendable troglodytes who serve no other purpose but to accumulate penalty minutes and frequent the box in an unfair exchange of on-ice talent. 

And I fully expect Philly to come crashing down on net, namely Henrik Lundqvist.  Allowing Philadelphia to create its signature brand of chaos in the crease could wind up being the Rangers ultimate downfall.  Very simply, the Rangers must meet the Flyers physicality.

It is in these type of matters where I feel Alain Vigneault needs to exert himself more.  At some point in this series, he will need to send his own message to the Flyers.  After all, he's the only one who decides who goes on the ice, when, and why.


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