The New York Rangers blew a huge chance at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The team had a chance to greatly improve their odds of advancing to the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Teams that have taken a 2-0 series lead in the first round have advanced to the second round an astonishing 86 percent of the time. When New York went up 2-0 in the first period on Sunday, courtesy of goals by Martin St. Louis and Benoit Pouliot, they appeared to hold full control of the series.
But the Philadelphia Flyers responded well and got the go-ahead goal from Luke Schenn in the second period. What appears troubling for the Rangers going forward is how Philadelphia played the rest of the game after they grabbed the lead. The Flyers were very wary to commit themselves to any type of forecheck unless they were absolutely sure that they could get something out of it. They appeared more interested in sitting back and clogging up the Rangers’ passing lanes, which is critical to the team’s success under Alain Vigneault.
New York must find a way in Game 3 to adapt to how the Flyers’ plan to play them for the rest of the series. Logic would dictate that Philadelphia will continue to try and block off passing lanes to stifle the Rangers’ movements.
The Blueshirts will need the experience of playmaker Martin St. Louis now more than ever to help keep the offense productive. After a rough start to his Rangers career in which he scored one goal and notched seven assists in 19 regular season games, the 38-year-old has put up and goal and two assists in the series. His goal on Sunday was his first at Madison Square Garden as a Ranger.
What happened for St. Louis in the regular season no longer matters; he is an experienced playmaker who can remain comfortable when the pressure gets elevated and help bring out the best of Brad Richards on the power play. That is exactly what he was brought in to do and help elevate the team during the playoff run.