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Rangers Pulling Further Away from Bruins as Well: A Fan’s Recap
The Philadelphia Flyers are fading further and further back from the New York Rangers at the moment. But Flyers fans like myself aren't the only ones who see our team looking more and more inferior to the Rangers. Even the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins aren't keeping up with New York right now, as everyone saw on Feb. 14.
The Rangers and Bruins faced off in Boston in a possible Eastern Conference finals preview. With New York seven points ahead of Boston for the No. 1 seed, a win over the champions would punctuate their breakaway pace from the rest of the East. All of that happened and more as the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist blew the Bruins away with a 3-0 victory.
Boston outshot New York by 42-20, as the Rangers had 12 of their shots in the first period. However, they got two of those shots past Tim Thomas, as he wasn't the hottest goalie on the ice for once. After those opening tallies, it was the Lundqvist show as he took over like always.
While the game was out of reach by the time the Bruins racked up an 18-3 shot advantage in the third period, Lundqvist made sure that Boston didn't sniff a comeback. The Flyers know full well that rallying over Lundqvist is a downright impossible task, as they have tried and failed five times already. Even the defending champions aren't immune to this kind of frustration, it would appear.
But the champs haven't been hot in a month, as the Bruins are entering a slump at the same time as the Flyers. Of course, Philadelphia is undergoing a worse slump and doesn't even have first place to cling to, unlike Boston. The Bruins remain ahead in the Northeast Division - although the Ottawa Senators are creeping closer - while the Flyers are now a whopping 10 points behind the Rangers in the Atlantic.
With New York now nine points ahead for first in the entire Eastern Conference, it isn't just Philadelphia that is flailing by comparison. The standings were much tighter all around a week ago, yet now it looks like the East is made up of the Rangers and everyone else. Of course, this kind of pace is usually harder to keep up in the playoffs.
Now the Rangers have to worry about if they've peaked too soon and whether Lundqvist and company will go down to earth at the worst time. Given that New York has one Stanley Cup in the last 72 years, it wouldn't be unprecedented for it to fall apart by the playoffs. But if the same Rangers team that has slaughtered the Flyers and Bruins lately keeps showing up, that collapse will look like a much more remote possibility.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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