The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have traded blows in their Metropolitan Division matchup in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. New York has won the odd-numbered games while Philly has taken all even-numbered games. The Game 6 win by Philadelphia had two main storylines that defined the ultimate outcome of the game. The first factor was Flyers goalie Steve Mason.
Mason stopped 34-of-36 New York shots and made some sparkling saves at key moments in the game. Mason is arguably the reason Philadelphia won both Games 4 and 6 at home with his most impressive performance coming in Game 6.
The Rangers started the game as the better team, but Mason played a great first period that allowed it to stay scoreless until the Flyers could take a 1-0 lead on the power play. The man-advantage situations are the second reason Philly triumphed in Game 6.
Philly received only three power play chances throughout the game, but looked dominant on all three and scored goals on two of them. Wayne Simmonds had his first career hat trick in the playoffs and notched both of the Flyers’ power play tallies.
The Flyers had New York on their heels with a man advantage, spreading the puck and opening up high-quality chances. The Rangers also failed at times to clear the puck when given a chance, which quickly turned into mayhem in front of New York net minder Henrik Lundqvist. Simmonds scored both goals in essentially the same spot, battling on the doorstep in front of Lundqvist and out-positioning the Rangers’ defensemen. The Rangers’ top defensive pair of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonaugh must play better after a subpar Game 6 by their standards.
The Flyers’ power play wasn’t the only reason they won the game. As good as Philly’s power play was, New York’s power play was absolutely disgusting and dysfunctional. The Rangers could not establish any extended pressure in the zone while on the power play. They went 0-for-5 for the game and got only four shots on goal between them all.
The Rangers ended up winning more face-offs than Philly for the game, but they lost key draws at the start of power plays. Philly would win the draw cleanly, quickly clear the puck deep and the Rangers could never smoothly enter the offensive zone to set up their attack. New York’s power play was way worse than Philly’s power play was effective, despite the Flyers’ two goals.
While New York’s power play is a mystery that they must solve immediately, they did well during 5-on-5 play, but Mason didn’t give an inch. The Rangers need to get more bodies in front of Mason to make it tough on him to track the puck. They should take a page out of Philly’s book and get to the dirty areas of the ice. That’s where the goals will be scored against a goaltender who’s playing very well.
The combination of Mason, great power plays from Philly and awful ones from the Rangers are why there will be a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. New York will look to adjust from their mistakes while the Flyers will try to be the first and only team in this series to win consecutive games.