Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
I AM HERE, TO BRING YOU ALL OF MY PLAYOFF MUSHINESS.
That said, the best part of this is the get inside their heads factor. Everyone keeps talking about it, so it must be true! Let’s change the music, change the wardrobe, change the food! If there’s one advantage the Eagles have this week, it’s that Saints players may be starting to believe that Old Man Winter dislikes teams that play their home games in a building with a roof. Oh, and then there’s the fact that the Eagles are a much better team right now.
“They should beat UCONN. They should beat them by a lot.”
Last night, Penguins down 3-1:
So with that, I bring you my Flyers-Rangers playoff prediction.
Not sure why everyone is so bearish on the Flyers right now. I mean, sure, their goalie has a mysterious head-neck injury and didn’t even feel well enough to take a train to New York. They haven’t won at Madison Square Garden seemingly since Eric Lindros did this:
The offense is spurty. The defense is inconsistent. And, in an intense series, Zac Rinaldo will be in serious danger of committing a felony. But besides that, things are actually looking up!
I did a little math yesterday (and yes, it did make my head hurt), and what I found was that since December 11, when the Flyers had an 18.39% chance of making the playoffs after they lost to the Blackhawks, 7-2, the OB have the seventh-most points (65) in the league and second-most in the conference, behind only Boston (73) and Pittsburgh (66). In other words, they have been a top team in the conference and among the best in the league for a large portion of the season.
Since February 1, when the Flyers started a hellish stretch and had only a 32.87% chance of making the playoffs, the numbers are even more impressive: they are tied for the fifth-most points (34) in the league and second-most in the conference, behind, you guessed it, Boston (44, which is absurd).
The Flyers haven’t been world-beaters, by any stretch, but they’ve put together an impressive run over the final two months of the season, against really tough competition: Kings (twice), Sharks (twice), Avalanche, Rangers (twice), Penguins (three times), Blackhawks, Stars, Blues (twice) and Bruins (twice). And that’s just over the course of 27 games since February 1. Not bad.
As for their first round competition? The Flyers and Rangers split four games this season, 2-2. Each team won twice at home. Everyone is just freaked out because the Flyers haven’t won in New York in three years. But so what? These teams are as evenly matched as it comes. Just because the Flyers stunk last year and struggled against the Rangers in 2011-2012 doesn’t mean they can’t win a game in New York. All it takes is one. I’d be less worried about playing in New York and more worried about Claude Giroux besting Ryan McDonagh. And how, exactly, could that be done? Frank Seravalli explains in an excellent article in the Daily News today:
In one word, Berube described the style he wants Claude Giroux, Voracek and Scott Hartnell to play against McDonagh as “unfulfilling.” Unless they have a clear break to carry it in the offensive zone, Berube has instructed his players to dump the puck in New York’s end, particularly in McDonagh’s direction, to see whether they can pin the should-be Norris Trophy candidate behind his net and create scoring opportunities that way.
Fred Shero employed that tactic 40 years ago on Bobby Orr when the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup. But for a 2014 Flyers team that has evolved into a more possession-conscious team, this will be a marked change of pace.
“You can’t let him force turnovers at the blue line, because he’s just a killer,” Berube said. “It’s kind of an unfulfilling way for a player to play – because you don’t want to give the puck up. I talked to our team today about grinding it out. Just wait for your opportunities.
“To try to beat him wide with speed, other than Voracek, [McDonagh is] probably going to win that battle a lot of times.”
That, or G can employ my street hockey technique for beating a stingy defenseman– take a slap shot at his face.
Flyers in 6. Adjust your panic accordingly.