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THOUGHTS ON THE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:39 PM ET
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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Once again, being a popular hockey team in the NHL with a large national following in a great hockey market has had an adverse affect on both the Flyers and New York Rangers.

Obviously a marquee matchup for ratings for the NHL, the league spread out the opening four games of the series enough to force two games on Sundays – the prime viewing time for the NHL on NBC and in doing so made the end of the series – if it proves to be a long one – cram three games into four nights, likely leaving the winner of a possible seven game series pretty spent heading into the second round.

The Flyers-Rangers matchup – the first time the rivals have met in the playoffs since the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals – is the only NHL series scheduled with two games being played on consecutive nights.

It’s a weird setup.

Game 1 will be Thursday at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden in New York, but the two teams will then have two days off prior to playing Game 2 on Easter Sunday at Noon, also at the garden.

The scene will shift back to the Wells Fargo Center for Game 3 next Tuesday at 8 p.m. – as a previously scheduled Miley Cyrus concert is moved instead to Monday – but then the teams will again have two days off before Game 4 is played in Philly on Friday April 25 at 7 p.m.

The last three games will be played Sunday, April 27 at Noon back in New York before back-to-back games on Tuesday April 29 and Wednesday April 30 for Games 6 and 7.

Spreading it out might make for good television, but at the same time it stems momentum built from one game to the next until the furious finish at the end.

I understand it’s a marquee matchup and it will bring big ratings and keep the conversation about the series going longer. But I also think it’s a detriment to the players who are trying to win a Stanley Cup and are being forced to play more frequently in the most important games of the series than anyone else while setting up a short turnaround for the winner of the series before moving on to play the winner of Pittsburgh and Columbus.

A disjointed series loses flow for those following the teams closest. Meanwhile, a series like Boston and Detroit is being played every other day – and that’s probably the second-most interesting series to a national audience – which means it will have a more consistent tempo.

I understand that teams make requests as well to have games on certain nights – so this probably isn’t all to blame on the league, or television alone - but I just find it frustrating that the schedule isn’t set up as a level playing field for everyone in the playoffs. It puts built-in adversity into the playoffs for teams just because they play in top markets.

Nevertheless… this is the best time of year for a hockey fan, and it all starts in 72 hours.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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