The New York Rangers failed to close out their first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center. A 5-2 Philly victory ensures that there will be a Game 7 in New York tonight.
The Rangers came out strong in Game 6, but an awful second period and a dominating Philly power play eventually doomed the blueshirts. The missed opportunity to advance is certainly disappointing for New York, but there’s a silver lining: They’ve been in this situation many times before.
As mind boggling as it may seem, the Rangers have not won a playoff series in fewer than seven games since they defeated the New Jersey Devils in five games in 2008. New York has won three playoff series’ since then, but all have taken the max amount of games. During the 2012 playoffs New York got to the conference finals but had to play 14 games to get there. An even crazier statistic is that the Rangers have now lost 12 straight playoff games when leading in the series. It’s no surprise that the 12-game streak is the longest in NHL history.
The Rangers have not made it easy on themselves to win a playoff series, but it was never supposed to be in the first place. What New York needs to do is focus on the positives while fixing some things that were apparent problems in Game 6.
One positive is that the Rangers will play Game 7 at home, where series finales have been friendly to the franchise. In New York’s proud history, the Rangers are 5-0 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden. Sure it’s just a historical statistic, but it can help restore some confidence in the team after the Game 6 loss. Each team has to put that game behind them, with Games 6 and 7 being played in back-to-back days.
Another thing the Rangers can take away from their Game 6 defeat is the goals they scored in the third period. They proved to be meaningless goals in terms of the outcome, but New York did not want to get shut out. They should hopefully be able to build off of that third period in Game 7. They also have to be pleased with posting 36 shots on goal in Game 6, but Flyers goalie Steve Mason was spectacular and proved to be the main reason Philly won the game.
The Rangers have some experience with this situation, so they can’t panic after the loss in Philly. The Rangers worked extremely hard all season to secure the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division, and their reward is the luxury of Game 7 at home. They need to take advantage of that. One thing’s for sure; people shouldn’t be too surprised that these two rivals need the full seven games to settle the series.