The New York Rangers got off to the ideal start at Madison Square Garden to begin their series against their bitter rival Philadelphia Flyers by trouncing them 4-1 in game one of their best-of-seven series.
Many people have pointed to the goaltending edge that favors the Rangers with Henrik Lundqvist between their pipes while the Flyers roll with Ray Emery in Steve Mason‘s absence. Regardless of who was in net for Game 1, the Flyers were doomed by untimely penalties.
Jason Akeson‘s double minor for high-sticking Carl Hagelin midway through the third period resulted in the Rangers unlocking the 1-1 tie. The Rangers proceeded to scored twice within a minute to take a commanding 3-1 lead. While this led to the Rangers getting the win, a penalty in the second period may have been just as costly.
With a delayed penalty about to be called against the Rangers which would’ve sent the Flyers to the power play, Brayden Schenn foolishly high-sticked Derick Brassard, nullifying the man advantage. Again, at that time, the game was 1-1. The game was there for the taking. Philadelphia was about to send the seventh-best power play unit to work in an effort to swing the score in their favor.
By the time the Akeson penalty happened, Philadelphia was already fighting an uphill battle despite the even score line. It took the Flyers over seven minutes to register their first and only shot attempt in the third period on Lundqvist. While New York controlled the third period and ultimately the game, things may have been different had they have been able to head to the man advantage late in the second period, their best period of the game.
As it stands, New York continues their dominance of the Flyers at MSG. Including regular season games, this was the Rangers’ ninth consecutive victory in their home building over the Flyers. Surely, if the Flyers hope to get back into this series before it slips away, they will need a much improved performance, specifically a win, in Sunday afternoon’s Game 2.
Being the lower-seeded team, it is impossible for Philadelphia to win this series without winning at least one game in New York.
If they have any hope for a Game 2 turnaround, cutting back on foolish penalties is a great place to start. Then the goaltender comparisons can resume.