The Philadelphia Flyers were the NHL's most penalized team during the regular season, so it was almost no surprise to see that a penalty -- a double minor, to be specific -- helped doom them in Game 1 Thursday night against the New York Rangers.
New York kept their discipline in tact, only giving Philadelphia a single power play on a Ryan McDonagh high-stick early in the third period. A similar infraction seven minutes later by Flyers forward Jason Akeson drew blood on Carl Hagelin and opened the door for two power play goals, giving the Rangers the lead for good.
“We’ve been whistle to whistle all year long," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault regarding his team's post-whistle discipline. "Nothing’s changed for us."
Special teams always play a big role in how series develop. The Rangers took advantage in Game 1. How will the Flyers respond Sunday afternoon in Game 2?
"It's something we've battled all year," said Flyers forward Matt Read. "If we don't smarten up it's going to cost us like it did last game.
"You can talk about it as much as you want, but if it doesn't correlate to the ice it doesn't matter what you say."
Adding to the Flyers' Game 1 frustrations, the Rangers dominated the possession game (59.3-percent even strength Corsi, via Extra Skater) and won the shot battle (36-15). The controlling of the puck kept Philadelphia's top line of Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Scott Hartnell in check, limiting them to two combined shots.
"If you don't shoot the puck, you don't have faceoffs in the offensive zone, that's the first problem,"said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. "The Rangers did that to us. They shot the puck from everywhere so we had a lot of faceoffs in our end, too many."
Steve Mason, who was aiming to play Game 2, will once again be sidelined as he recovers from an upper-body injury. Ray Emery will get the call in net for the Flyers and will play in consecutive games for the first time this season.
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