This season the NHL chose to realign their divisional and conference formats as well as alter the playoff formats with the hopes of generating more early round rivalry matchups.
That is what fuels most rivalries afterall, a heated playoff matchup.
Well, in the first year of realignment the NHL got their wish!
Round one will see rivalry matchups between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, a close proximity matchup between Columbus and Pittsburgh that has all the makings of an upset, and some bitter rivals dating back many years in Chicago vs St. Louis and the New York Rangers vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.
Here is the schedule for the Rangers vs Flyers series:
GAME 1 Thursday, April 17 at 7pm ET Flyers at Rangers
GAME 2 Sunday, April 20 at Noon ET Flyers at Rangers
GAME 3 Tuesday, April 22 at 8pm ET Rangers at Flyers
GAME 4 Friday, April 25 at 7pm ET Rangers at Flyers
GAME 5* Sunday, April 27 at Noon ET Flyers at Rangers
GAME 6* Tuesday, April 29 (Time TBD) Rangers at Flyers
GAME 7* Wednesday, April 30 (Time TBD) Flyers at Rangers
The teams split their season series at 2 wins and 2 losses each.
They are only separated by a short bus or train ride so opposing fans are likely to find their way into each other’s venue, adding to the excitement in the crowd.
The Rangers are still waiting for trade deadline acquisition Martin St. Louis to start scoring goals, but if he gets hot, this could be all the Rangers need to go deep in the playoffs this year. Recently placed on a line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash, they appear ready to click just as the team enters the playoffs. With the tic-tac-toe passing of the Zuccarello-Brassard-Pouliot line, the Rangers may have two lines firing on all cylinders and major offensive threats. Their penalty killing is excellent, their goaltending is excellent, all they lack is the timely goal scoring to finish teams off and it just might be warming up at the right time.
The Flyers, seemingly as always, boast a much more physically imposing lineup. Their best chance is to get the Rangers looking over their shoulders for that big hit at all times. Pressure the defense to force turnovers and hit them at every chance. The smaller Rangers forwards will need to be checked early and often to try to wear them down over the course of the series. Flyers captain Claude Giroux has heated up and carried the team on his back down the stretch, if he continues on his torrid scoring pace, the Flyers will only have to worry about defending their own end. That is where the question mark of this series lies. Starting goaltender Steve Mason was injured over the weekend and his status is unclear. While backup goaltender Ray Emery can be solid, he is not likely to hold up over a 7 game series as the only option in goal.
This series will have everything a hockey fan wants – solid defense, gifted offense, stellar goaltending and definitely the physical element that is always there when these two bitter rivals meet up.
Rangers vs Flyers playoff tickets are on sale now at SelectATicket.com.