Geographical rival Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers finished just two points apart in the standings, with the 2 points that the Rangers edged the Flyers by ending up being huge in the grand scheme of the series.
Two clubs that were almost polar opposites, with the Rangers strength being between the pipes with Henrik Lundqvist as well as a shutdown blueline facing a team with a potent offense but questions at the back end and most importantly in goal.
Like a couple of other occasions in this spring’s post-season, not having a number one goalie in the series proved to put the Flyers in an early hole, with Steve Mason missing the first two games and only coming into the third game for mop-up duty after Ray Emery got chased.
The Flyers managed a split in New York but dropping that first game on home ice put them in a hole and they never had a lead in terms of games in the series.
The series was completely win-one, lose-one as they rotated wins and losses throughout the 7 game series. Mason, who hadn’t played since April 12 before coming into the series as a starter on April 25, was greeted by 4 games in 6 nights and that might have been too much to overcome.
It was a the balanced Rangers attack that made the difference, as 11 players scored goals, with 8 tying for the club lead with 2 each. Seven Rangers skater recorded 4 or more points as opposed to Philadelphia which had only 3 players get to 4 points.
In the end, for two longtime division rivals, there wasn’t a ton of hatred like you might expect to see, even as the series was extended to sixth and seventh games. As we have seen from this countdown exercise so far, the 4 first round series from the Eastern Conference were the lowest ranked as the West was where the excitement was found this year.
I’m not sure Mason would have made the difference, but Emery’s .888 SP in his 3 games were certainly a factor in the Flyers constantly playing from behind in the series and in individual games. The Flyers scored just 10 goals at even strength in the series and that was another huge factor in not being able to advance.
The Rangers’ 7 game win over the Flyers is the 12th ranked playoff series of 2014.