Special Teams Proving to Be Key to Series

From the moment the final horn sounded on the Rangers 4-2 Game 2 loss to the Flyers on Sunday, I’ve seen Blueshirt fans lament their team’s lack of toughness and physicality.

While most of Blueshirt Nation feel the Rangers lack of guts led to the defeat, it was actually their lack of discipline and inability to take advantage of the Flyers foolishness that did them in.

In Game 1, the Rangers were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Flyers were scoreless on their only extra man opportunity.

In Game 2, the Rangers were just 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Flyers were 2-for-3 with the extra man including a goal on a delayed penalty.

Need more proof?

For all the talk of the Rangers not providing enough push back against the Flyers, they were outhit in Game 2 by a measly three body checks (33 to 30). In fact, the Flyers actually had a higher disparity of hits against the Rangers in their Game 1 loss (37 to 32).

Before the series began, I stressed the importance of special teams. And through two games, I’ve been proven prophetic (even a broken clock is right twice a day).

When the Rangers made the Flyers pay for their predictably overzealous attempts to set a physical tone, while leaving Philadelphia’s vaunted power play in mothballs for almost all of Game 1 they were victorious. But by not taking advantage of the Flyers continued conga line to the penalty box along with allowing the NHL’s 8th best power play to find their groove in Game 2, the Rangers opened the door for Philadelphia to get into the series.

Here’s Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers trying not to get caught up in the emotion of Wells Fargo Center crowd tonight (…

“If you get the momentum you have to try to hang onto it, you have to be disciplined too. Their fans will be feeding off their physicality, and you can’t buy into it or get caught up in it. That’s something we’ve done all season so far.”

One advantage the Rangers do have on their side going into Philadelphia is that the Flyers are borderline anemic with the extra man at home. While they sport a NHL best 25.2% power play on the road, at the Wells Fargo Center it drops to just 15.1%, which is good for just 25th in the league.

The game plan for the Rangers seems fairly simple, now it’s up to them to implement it.


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