Rangers Set For Game 1 Battle With Flyers

Ryan McDonagh makes his return tonight! (Getty)

Ryan McDonagh makes his return tonight! (Getty)

The stage is set and the time has finally come. After a 3-6 start early in the season on a grueling nine-game road trip, many fans thought the season was over and the New York Rangers would be playing for a high draft pick. But, instead, here we stand on a beautiful Thursday, and the Rangers are set to do battle with the Philadelphia Flyers in game one of the Metropolitan Division semi-final in The Big Apple.

Injury News An Early Series Story

The Rangers almost had a major set-back when a few days ago forward Derick Brassard hobbled off the ice at practice. As always, Rangers twitter was in a frenzy, and people were jumping to conclusions saying that Brassard could be out long-term. Well, the good news is that he isn’t. He spoke to reporters and stated that he left as a precaution and it was the coach’s decision. He says he is 100% and good to go for tonight.

The Rangers will also get Ryan McDonagh back tonight, as he is playing in his first game since suffering an injury in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on April 1. He says he is fully-rested and also has the green light, which is bad news for the Flyers, as McD is turning into one of the league’s elite defensemen and he will prove pivotal when shutting down the Flyers dangerous duo of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Flyers’ personnel haven’t said much about goaltender Steve Mason’s injury other than the whole “upper-body” nonsense. But it has been confirmed that their number-one netminder will not be between the pipes tonight and his status is also uncertain for game 2. Instead it will be backup Ray Emery. This is something the Rangers need to take advantage of, Emery has been very weak in his recent games and it is vital that the New York offense takes advantage and puts a bunch of pucks toward the net to try and get the goaltender off his game.

A Rivalry Renewed 

The Rangers and Flyers have not met in the playoffs since way back in 1997, so surely there will be physical play and scrums after almost every whistle.

Let’s face it, these teams hate each other, they have come out and said it publicly, and they have made it very clear that they want to beat down one another.

In my opinion, grinders are going to become a big factor throughout the length of this series. Guys like Zac Rinaldo, Wayne Simmonds, Dominic Moore, and Brian Boyle are going to need to step up and be on their A-game if they want their team to come out on top in this playoff tilt.

FullTilt Forecast 

These two teams split the season-series at two games a piece, as they traded wins and losses the entire year.

When Henrik Lundqvist is in net, the Rangers’ chances of winning immediately spike up to extraordinary numbers. As said in the past, he has the ability to steal games for this team, and he has those clutch genes that are very useful come playoff time.

If Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash can find some chemistry, the Rangers will be a very tough out this year.

Look for a 3-2 Rangers win tonight and a 1-0 series lead.

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