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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 ET / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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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

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."

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 76 21 55 7 76
C. Giroux 75 23 46 2 69
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 76 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 76 13 17 1 30
M. Del Zotto 58 9 20 -5 29
M. Read 74 7 22 -7 29
M. Raffl 61 20 6 7 26
V. Lecavalier 52 7 11 -10 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 15 17 11 .927 2.24
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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