The stage is set for the New York Rangers‘ first round of the postseason, and they’ll meet none other than their rivals from Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Flyers clinched the third seed in the Metropolitan division with a 4-3 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. As the focus shifts to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the game planning begins for head coaches Alain Vingneault and Craig Berube.
Rangers defensemen Ryan McDonaugh against Flyers captain Claude Giroux is going to be a key matchup that could ultimately sway the difference between an early exit and another playoff series for the Rangers.
Giroux has played exceptionally well this season and leads his team in points with 85. That’s not bad for a guy who scored his first goal more than a month into the season. McDonaugh will need to hit the ground running when he returns from injury. He hasn’t played since Apr. 1 when he suffered a shoulder injury, but will be ready for Game 1 against Philly.
Along with help from defensive partner Dan Girardi, McDonaugh needs to neutralize Giroux in order to slow down a very potent Flyers offense. McDonaugh has established himself as New York’s best defensemen this season, and he needs to play like it against Giroux.
Here’s an eye-opener to emphasize Giroux’s importance to his team — the Flyers have only won eight games this season where Giroux didn’t record a point. They lost the other 21 games in which Giroux was kept off the score sheet.
McDonaugh’s assignment will be a difficult one in an upcoming series that will be nothing less than intense. It’s playoff hockey, and the Rangers and Flyers are about to clash. Hold on tight.