There’s no secret to the Flyers game plan going into the series. Hit the Rangers every opportunity they get. And when they’re done, hit them some more (via Bergen Record)…
“We will go over the game plan the next two days. But it’s a playoff game. You go hit and skate and play physical on the other team and I am sure that is what we will do,” Jacub Voracek said.
And the one player the Flyers plan on targeting is Ryan McDonagh, who will be playing his first game since suffering a shoulder injury on April 1st in Vancouver…
“Yeah, he’s a little banged up, I read somewhere,” added Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell about McDonagh. “You definitely want to be physical on him. You don’t want to take a dumb penalty or a roughing penalty. You want to be clean and hard on him and make sure he is working hard for every inch of ice out there with or without the puck. Defensively, if we don’t get pucks deep, we will lose this series. McDonagh had a great game the last time in the Garden. He matched up on us. He kept taking the puck away, dispy-doodling and he scored a nice goal. You let that happen against a guy like that and the Rangers, it’s going to be a long night. We have to be a little bit smarter.”
While the Rangers acknowledge that the Flyers will likely be very physical with them…
“It’s a different animal from the regular season. Everyone finishes checks. All those little things that make it harder to get to their net usually becomes of more importance and the ice gets smaller out there,” Marc Staal noted.
…the question is, how will they respond?
If the regular season is any indication, they won’t retaliate at all. The more likely scenario is when the Flyers begin to set the tone physically, the Rangers will counter, not with fists, but by establishing their speed game as well as puck possession.
Alain Vigneault’s Rangers have yet to get caught up in the emotion of a game this entire season, so I’m not expecting them to get rattled by the Flyers intimidation tactics. Instead, they’ll look to survive whatever onslaught comes their way, hope the Flyers become overzealous finishing checks and take advantage of the power play opportunities presented to them.
And if you don’t believe me, just take a gander at who was positioned on Brad Richards right wing during practice yesterday…yep, the speedy Jesper Fast, instead of the rugged Dan Carcillo.
If Vigneault had any plans of matching the Flyers toughness, Carcillo would have been firmly planted on one of the top four lines at the MSG practice facility not skating with the other healthy scratches contemplating if he wants mustard or ketchup on his hotdog in the press box Thursday night.
Wanting the Rangers to reinvent themselves into the 2011-12 team, would be wanting a quick exit from the postseason. They don’t want to play that way, nor can they play that way. The 2013-14 Rangers want to roll four lines, skate hard, establish a forecheck and maintain puck possession.
If the Flyers are able to coax them away from that game plan with shenanigans, the series is lost for the Blueshirts.
And if you don’t believe me, just ask the 2011-12 Penguins…