With the game outcome still very much in doubt midway though the third period of Thursday night’s Division Semifinal between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, is there a reason the Flyers had to lose their composure the way they did?
At the 7:35 mark of the third period, Jason Akeson took a four-minute high sticking penalty, thus giving the Rangers the spark they needed to catapult themselves to a Game 1 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored on the subsequent power play, and the Rangers cruised to a 4-1 win.
The Rangers outworked, outhustled, and at times outhit a Flyers team that looked utterly undisciplined.
Following the Rangers taking full advantage of the double-minor, the Flyers resorted to thuggery and unnecessary penalties, including a senseless slashing penalty from Zac Rinaldo, and a mind-boggling cross-checking penalty by Brayden Schenn.
The key to the Rangers winning this series is to not let the Flyers get in their heads. So far, they have managed to get inside the Flyers’ heads. Perhaps it was the frustration of Claude Giroux not registering a shot on goal, or perhaps even being outshot 36-15 in the entire game.
Regardless, the Rangers know the Flyers will go into Sunday’s Game 2 angry and hungry. Despite a scintillating first game victory, the Rangers must match the intensity the Flyers will bring feeding off the late-game thuggery from Thursday.
This series is far from over, but a repeat performance from the Rangers in Game 2 may just be the thing to make the Flyers reach their breaking point.