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Flyers back on the brink after Game 5 loss to Rangers

Richards, Rangers a win away from advancing
Richards, Rangers a win away from advancing
Photo by Bruce Bennett

The Philadelphia Flyers have already been resilient in the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, the Flyers have only shown that strength in even numbered games, while the New York Rangers have owned the odd numbered ones. That trend continued in Game 5 on April 27, and at this rate, it will end with Philadelphia out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Game 7, if not sooner.

The Rangers used a 4-2 win to go up by 3-2 in the series, taking their third one-game lead over the Flyers. Despite being handcuffed by Steve Mason in Game 4, New York solved him quickly in Game 5, as Marc Staal opened the scoring in the first. Brad Richards continued it in the second, followed by Dominic Moore taking advantage of a Hal Gill turnover.

The Flyers only found life at the very end of the second period, on a power play goal by Vinny Lecavalier. The first tally of the series from Claude Giroux briefly put the Rangers on notice with under two minutes left, but an empty net strike from Brian Boyle quickly put an end to that.

Other than those late moments, the Rangers didn't have much trouble. This has been the pattern in these Stanley Cup playoffs for these two teams, as New York has cruised to wins in Games 1, 3 and 5 while Philadelphia has gutted out victories in Games 2 and 4 to save itself. By that pattern, the Flyers should be able to extend their season in Game 6 on April 29.

But by that formula, the Rangers would then take Game 7 at Madison Square Garden the next night to move on. No team has had a winning streak in this series, yet the Flyers have no choice but to get one now. This is the price of not getting home ice to start the series, as well as not showing consistency for more than one game at a time.

New York hasn't been consistent either, but it doesn't really need to be now. Of course, the Rangers don't need to wait until Game 7 at the Garden to finish the Flyers off. Now that Mason's return isn't as big of an edge for Philadelphia anymore, it needs another kind of sudden spark to stay in the Stanley Cup playoffs -- and in a hurry.