The Stanley Cup playoffs were once a pipe dream for the Philadelphia Flyers. But on April 17, the Flyers played Game 1 of a postseason they looked eons away from making when the season started. Unfortunately, they opened their Stanley Cup playoff quest in New York, where the New York Rangers always seem to beat Philadelphia -- and did again with a dominant third period in Game 1.
The 4-1 margin of victory for the Rangers was both misleading and accurate all at once. The Flyers had an early 1-0 lead and were still tied at 1-1 seven minutes into the third period. Yet the Rangers had far more chances, as they would go on to outshoot the Flyers by 36-15, with replacement goalie Ray Emery keeping Philadelphia afloat longer than it should have been.
The floodgates finally opened when the Flyers' Jason Akeson cut the Rangers' Carl Hagelin with a high stick, drawing a four-minute penalty. Yet New York only needed 47 seconds to take a two goal lead, as Brad Richards and Derek Stepan made Philadelphia pay dearly. If that wasn't enough, Hagelin himself later scored the insurance goal to cap things off for the Rangers.
With no offensive production and ill-timed penalties, the Flyers harkened back to the ugly start that made them have to catch fire just to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs. But it was nothing new for them at Madison Square Garden, as the Rangers stretched their winning streak over Philadelphia in New York to nine games. Given that the Rangers have home ice advantage and a potential Game 7 at the Garden, this streak will have to end very soon for the Flyers to advance.
Philadelphia will hope to get Steve Mason back from injury and back in net for a boost soon, although Emery did all he could to keep Game 1 close. Henrik Lundqvist didn't need to break much of a sweat on the other end, but if he does later in the series, New York should feel confident -- as long as it faces the Flyers in the Garden, anyway.
The Flyers will look to get more disciplined and break their losing streak in New York -- and stop its overall five-game Stanley Cup playoff losing streak -- in Game 2 on April 20 at noon est.