Spoiler alert to those who follow the Mc’s Picks: As long as the New York Rangers remain in the playoffs, this will be the selection. In fact, I won’t even consider anything else until the Rangers season ends.
In my opinion there is nothing better than playoff hockey; even casual observers respect the intensity of the NHL’s playoff series and this series between the Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers should be extremely intense. These teams are old school, bitter rivals and this series should reflect that.
I mad the case that the Rangers would probably rather face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round rather than the Flyers, but this is the hand the team has been dealt. The Rangers must keep Flyers captain Claude Giroux in check, if he gets hot the Rangers, who lack offensive punch, they ranked 18th in the NHL in goals this year, could have a hard time keeping up, but this is a team whose strength is their defense, and they will have to continue that trend if they want to advance deep into the post season.
The most important thing for any playoff team is to get great goaltending, and this is where the Rangers have a tremendous advantage in this series. Henrik Lundqvist is a better goaltender then Steve Mason, there’s no other way to put it. Mason has had a very good year in Philly, but he’s not the caliber player of King Henrik. The Rangers need Henrik to be their best player night in and night out if they want to have a chance to bring home hockey’s ultimate prize. This team will go only as far as he can carry them, it’s as simple as that.
It’s a fun time of year to be a hockey fan, let’s enjoy it.