Four Reasons Why the Flyers Will Win Game 7 (And Four Reasons Why They Won’t)

Posted: April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

flyers-rangers1Tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers put their seasons on the line. There’s nothing quite like a game seven in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL will see three of these masterpieces commence this evening. First, the Flyers will look to continue their miraculous season in Manhattan, where Madison Square Garden will host its fourth game of the series.

When it comes to the final game of a best-of-seven series, everything is up in the air. The grueling grind of an 82-game season, followed by the treacherous trek of a seven-game-series; is rendered completely meaningless by the magnitude of this event. The winner goes on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins beginning on Friday. Meanwhile, the loser heads home with five months ahead of them to ponder what might have been. For the Flyers, tonight’s game is less about completing a successful season (they did that merely by making it to the postseason after their horrid start). Instead, it’s about exercising the demons of MSG. After all, Philadelphia has won in New York only once since early-2011. That victory came in game two of this series, and the Flyers will need every ounce of energy that their tired and bruised legs have left if they’re going to take down the force that is the New York Rangers.

Philadelphia is 2-0 in road game sevens since the 2005 lockout. They defeated Washington at the Verizon Center in 2008, then completed a miraculous comeback against Boston at TD Garden in 2010. Including a home victory over Buffalo in 2011, the Flyers haven’t lost a game seven since 2004, when the Tampa Bay Lightning shocked the Flyers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Here are three reasons why the Flyers will win this evening’s affair in New York:

1. Momentum is on their side

Sure, New York has won at a steady pace at home against Philadelphia this season. But, the Rangers were one of the worst home teams in the NHL this season (20-17-4) and by far were the worst home team that made the postseason. Meanwhile, the Flyers bring all the momentum with them following a 5-2 blowout win in Philadelphia less than 24-hours ago. The lack of a day off in-between games six and seven serves to not only put added pressure on New York. But, also keeps the confidence that the Flyers gained last night fresh in their minds heading into this evening’s affair.

Just last year, the first round saw two series go to game sevens in which the final game of the series was played a day after game six. The Rangers, down 3-2 to the Capitals returning home for game six, were able to triumph in that game and then carry the momentum over the next night, winning 5-0 at Verizon Center to advance. On the other hand, the Toronto Maple Leafs were unable to hold a 4-1 lead in Boston in game seven after coming back from a 3-1 series deficit. Toronto would blow that 3 goal third period lead en route to a 5-4 overtime loss.

2. Captain Claude is clutch

For all the complaining that Philadelphia fans have emitted over the performance of Claude Giroux this series, #28 already has performed at a point-per-game clip (2 goals, 4 assists in 6 games). Meanwhile, there have been no greater clutch performers than Giroux over the past five years. In elimination games since his career began (that is, games in which either the Flyers or their opponents can close out a series) Giroux has 7 goals and 15 assists (22 points) in 14 games. That’s an impressive clip for the 26-year old. If that trend continues tonight, Philadelphia will likely be traveling to Pittsburgh this weekend.

3. Welcome back, Mase!

The Flyers’ netminder has shown how head-and-shoulders above Ray Emery he truly is. Having played just three games so far, Mason has dominated two (games four and six) while playing well enough to win on the road (game five). He has clearly outperformed Henrik Lundqvist and looks to have found his groove. If the Flyers are going to win the series, Mason is going to have to play nearly as flawlessly as he did in game six.

4. Special teams are indeed special

When this season began, it was the Rangers’ special teams that were dominant. New York started the series 3-8 with the man advantage, and neutralized Philadelphia en route to a game one victory. Since then, the Flyers’ special teams have skated laps around their opponents. New York has gone 0-20 on the power play dating back to game two. That’s right, twenty consecutive failures with the extra-attacker for the Rags. The Flyers even scored a goal as a direct result of the futility when Erik Gustafsson made it 3-0 last night after exiting the box. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s power play has heated up, scoring two more yesterday. If that trend continues, the Rangers will have a difficult time winning this evening. Of course, we’ll see how the refs call the game as that will also have a large affect on the play.

Since it’s not all sunshine and roses at SkoodSports, and we did predict the Rangers in seven to begin the series; let’s take a look at how New York can win tonight’s game.

1. The King must hold court.

Henrik Lundqvist, for all of his regular season success, is nothing more than an average playoff goalie. While his peripheral numbers suggest similarities to his regular season performance, Lundqvist is merely 33-40 in 73 career postseason games. That trend has continued this season, as he has followed up a solid performance with a bad one nearly every night. If “Hank” is on his game by limiting rebounds, the Rangers will have a great chance to advance.

2. Defensive zone responsibility

Yes, Wayne Simmonds is a talented netmouth attacker. After all, that’s where a majority of his goals are tallied. But, there’s really no reason why he should be left alone in front of Lundqvist’s net over-and-over during the course of the game. Either the Flyers’ aggressive and physical nature is finally getting to New York’s defense, or something is physically wrong with Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. While they’re both talented shot blockers and the former is phenomenal as a puck mover, neither is tremendous in front of their own net at clearing out bodies. The Rangers will need to keep the likes of Simmonds and Scott Hartnell away from the crease, or a mimicry of last night could occur.

3. Philadelphia’s defensive zone turnovers

Takeaways were dramatically in New York’s favor last night, and it’s amazing that the Flyers were as successful as they were in game six despite that fact. At one point, Philadelphia had nine giveaways to New York’s one, yet the Flyers led the game 1-0. Steve Mason had a lot to do with the game staying the way it was. But, the Flyers cannot expect similar trends to continue if they want to survive and advance. The Rangers need to capitalize on Philly’s poor passing, especially when it sets them up for easy scoring chances right in front of Mason’s net.

4. New York’s home-ice-advantage

Yes, the Rangers were miserable at home this season. But, they have given Philadelphia nightmares at Madison Square Garden for years. Similarly, New York has never lost at home in a game seven (5-0). Trends like that are meant to be broken. But, the Flyers will need to exercise their MSG demons if they’re going to play streak-stopper.

Ultimately, the key to this evening’s game will be whomever gets on top first. The Rangers have shown all season that they’re an average come-from-behind unit. Their offense just isn’t built to score a lot of goals when trailing. If the Flyers can score first to take the crowd out of the game, it will go a long way to determining whether or not their comeback campaign will continue beyond tonight.

The scene is New York. The setting is game seven. If the Flyers can make it there, they can make it anywhere. Tonight is the night, there will be no more hockey for one of these two talented foes. All that’s left to do now is to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s