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Rangers & Flyers Face Off In What Should Be A First-Round Matchup For The Ages

On one hand, this isn’t the opponent I wanted for the Blueshirts. Give me a less-experienced, softer Columbus team while Philly & the Pens beat the shit out of each other. On the other hand, why not jump right in with both feet? It’s the NHL playoffs – best couple months in sports – so why not kick it off with Broadway vs Broad Street, loser goes home? Last time these teams met with the chance to end each other’s season, the Flyers shut the door on the Rangers in a shootout that sprung their improbable 2010 Cup Finals run. Now, NY has their shot at vengeance.

Here’s the series schedule. Easter Sunday at noon? Really, NHL? Assholes.

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Rangers in 6. Write it down, tell your friends and, if you give a shit, check out 3 reasons why I’ll be right…or wrong:

Blueshirts Will Advance Because:

Lundqvist – Duh. No greater advantage between these two teams than in the blue paint. Hank made 30 saves in a 3-1 W the last time they met which, in hindsight, is the reason this series is kicking off at MSG. He’s 27-13-3 career against the Flyers and has bounced back with Vezina-caliber goaltending once the calendar turned to 2014. His resurgence is the main reason why his Blueshirts closed with their second-most wins since ’94. Steve Mason, while he’s been solid with 13 W’s in his last 20 starts, hasn’t played meaningful hockey since being swept in the first round of his ’08-’09 rookie campaign. Plus, he’s apparently not as “100%” as first thought.

PK Unit Stays Hot – Philly’s power play is dangerous. Giroux/Simmonds/Voracek/Hartnell have proven to be a lethal unit. They’ll be up against NY’s phenomenal penalty kill though. A unit that, over the last quarter of the season, has killed off somewhere around 95% of the opposition’s chances. Plus, the Flyers are the only playoff team to have given up double-digit shorties – the Rangers are one of three to score 10 or more. It also will benefit the Blueshirts to stay out of the box like they have all year. Only one team (San Jose) has been short-handed less than them, and the only thing better than a penalty kill is to avoid being down a man.

Margot Robbie – Remember her? The biggest Rangers fan there is? Pretty tough to beat a team that’s actually better than you AND has a smoke in their corner. Either that or I just felt like breaking up the monotony of a Thornton-like post with a couple pics of a hot chick. Is that OK? OK.

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Margot Robbie
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Blueshirts Will Schedule Tee Times Because:

St. Louis & Nash Don’t Show Up –  NY has relied on depth scoring, but they’ve also shown to be offensively challenged at times regardless of opponent or goalie. If they can’t score, it’s not going to be Zucc’s fault, Step’s fault, Brass’ fault – the blame will fall squarely on the shoulders of their two biggest recent trade acquisitions. I probably could’ve left Nash out of this. He’s been streaky, but scored at a 30+ pace with a third of his tallies serving as game-winners. Still, he can’t disappear. Stars have to shine in the post season. The Rangers will need to finally get what they paid for out of Marty though. They didn’t move the heart & soul of their squad for “good skating” or “chances”. Cally was swapped for a guy who was supposed to show up on the stat sheet nightly. Thursday night would be a good time to start.

InjuriesBig dick Kreider is all but certain to miss this series, but Ryan McDonagh will be back on the ice after sitting the last couple weeks nursing his shoulder. Throw in the latest news of Derrick Brassard leaving practice today with an apparent back injury & the Rangers have some question marks. They were smart protecting McD and he says he’s 100% – but a big hit on the future Norris candidate could change that pretty quickly. Losing Brass or any other forward would put NY’s depth to the test. AV has already been juggling JT Miller and Jesper Fast to fill Kreider’s skates – having to roll both in the lineup is something neither he nor fans will be comfortable with. Meanwhile, Philly seems to have all hands on deck as far as skaters are concerned.

Philly Literally Beats The Shit Out Of Them – This is the biggest advantage the Flyers have, and also the biggest reason I’d have preferred to miss them in Round 1. It’s not just Simmonds & Hartnell either. The Schenn bros, Rinaldo…these guys bang, and they’re gonna look to steamroll their way to the next round. Richards, Stepan, Nash, Zucc, MSL & a couple of rooks…not exactly an intimidating counter-attack. Also, they’re not only tough but Philly has no problem being dirty. Like it or not, that goes a long way in playoff hockey. Remember the Simmonds slash on McD in the closing seconds of their last game? Don’t think for a second they’re not gonna go out of their way & even cross the line on the forecheck to test his shoulder against the boards. If the Flyers pull off the upset, it’ll most likely because they literally dismantled the Rangers. If the Blueshirts stay in one piece though, my 6-game prediction might be more than they’ll need.

Check out KFC Radio’s Stanley Cup playoffs podcast hosted by @CharlieWisco with Rear Admiral, myself & Chief.

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