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Rink Report: Match ups take center stage in Game 1

Opening game of Flyers-Rangers series could be decided on line vs. line match ups

Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 3:14 PM / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com

NEW YORK -- One of the more interesting games within the game will come when the Philadelphia Flyers deploy their top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek against the New York Rangers' top defense pair of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

With Game 1 of the First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH, MSG) at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers have the advantage of having the last change.

Said Hartnell on what he's learned from four regular-season games against McDonagh and Girardi: "How good they are, especially here."

In four games against the Flyers this season, McDonagh had one goal, one assist and a plus-2 rating, while Girardi had no points and an even plus/minus rating.

"We have to get it behind them, make them go 200 feet, be physical on them every chance you get," Hartnell said. "In a seven-game series that's wear and tear on them. If we're not turning pucks over, especially our line, against those two guys we'll be fairly effective."

Giroux said he was more concerned with how he and his linemates were playing rather than how the opposition was going to attack them.

"I think it's important we focus on our game, not so much on them," he said. "We know they're good defensively and their goalie is pretty sharp. But I think it's important for us to focus on our game, and not so much on how they're going to play and how they're going to react. We have to play our game and make them react to us."

Part of the Flyers' plan for dealing with the Rangers' defensive pressure will be a strong start.

"The start for us is going to be huge," Hartnell said. "Both teams probably will have a little bit of nerves in them. The team that keeps it simple, gets pucks deep ... if you make a couple cute passes, they're pretty good defensively coming back and they're going to get odd-man rushes our way. The simplest team will have the best start and we'll have a lot of energy."

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 23 16 6 1 61 57 33
2 PIT 21 15 4 2 76 49 32
3 NYI 22 16 6 0 72 59 32
4 TBL 23 15 6 2 81 63 32
5 DET 22 12 5 5 64 54 29
6 BOS 23 13 9 1 59 57 27
7 TOR 22 11 8 3 70 67 25
8 OTT 21 10 7 4 58 56 24
9 FLA 20 8 6 6 42 51 22
10 WSH 21 9 8 4 58 57 22
11 NYR 21 9 8 4 60 62 22
12 NJD 22 9 10 3 53 63 21
13 PHI 21 8 10 3 59 66 19
14 CAR 21 6 12 3 48 63 15
15 CBJ 21 6 13 2 51 76 14
16 BUF 22 6 14 2 37 72 14

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 21 8 22 6 30
C. Giroux 21 7 19 8 26
W. Simmonds 21 8 7 5 15
B. Schenn 21 7 8 6 15
M. Streit 21 4 9 4 13
S. Couturier 21 4 4 -3 8
M. Read 21 2 6 -4 8
M. Del Zotto 20 2 6 -2 8
M. Raffl 13 6 1 2 7
V. Lecavalier 14 2 4 -3 6
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 4 7 2 .918 2.73
R. Emery 4 3 1 .898 3.16
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