The Philadelphia Flyers have to only worry about the Pittsburgh Penguins right now in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Yet Flyers fans like myself want to do more than beat the Penguins in the playoffs - but that will be very difficult as long as the New York Rangers are around. Since New York got a 6-0 regular season sweep of Philadelphia, a playoff rematch would not look too promising.
However, if the Rangers can be upset before they can face the Flyers, the Ottawa Senators didn't appear to be the team to do it in Game 1 on April 12. The struggling, eighth-seeded Senators couldn't get the Game 1 road upset that the Flyers got over the Penguins on April 11 - and they didn't rally from a big deficit either.
New York got out to a 4-0 lead and went on to a 4-2 victory over Ottawa, as it largely looked every bit like the No. 1 seed that it is. There are questions as to whether the Rangers can really be a Stanley Cup favorite, since they haven't been one in over a decade. But with efforts such as the one in this opener, it will be easier for them to answer those questions.
Having Henrik Lundqvist on his A-game will also be a big help as well. The best goaltender in the regular season made a big impression to start the postseason, keeping the Rangers ahead by 1-0 early while the Senators controlled the tempo in the second. Yet while it appeared to be a matter of time before Ottawa tied it, coach John Tortorella pulled a Peter Laviolette and used his timeout to give the Rangers new life.
Afterwards, the Rangers reacted as strongly as the Flyers usually do when Laviolette stops play. Marian Gaborik and Brian Boyle closed the period with backbreaking goals, giving the Rangers an easy 3-0 cushion. The Flyers made a 3-0 comeback on the road in their Game 1, yet they had two periods to do it while the Senators only had one.
Ottawa blew its early window of opportunity and now it hopes that its best chance in the series isn't gone. As for New York, things are already breaking its way in the playoffs, after it won and its supposedly toughest competition in Pittsburgh got tripped up. If the Rangers' toughest challengers for the rest of the Eastern Conference playoffs are actually the Flyers and Boston Bruins - two teams they dominated all year - they will be in pretty good shape.
One opening game doesn't indicate how the rest of the playoffs will go - or at least the Senators hope that it doesn't. Yet the Rangers just hope that 15 more games will go like this - and they still have as good a chance as anyone to have that happen this postseason.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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