Flyers

Flyers

Leading up to the Flyers' Aug. 2 round-robin opener — which officially commences the team's run at the 2020 Stanley Cup in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament — we're going to break down every possible first-round matchup for the club.

Today, we look at the 11th-seeded Rangers.

Flyers by the numbers

Goals per game: 3.29 (seventh overall)
Goals allowed per game: 2.77 (tied for seventh fewest)
Power play percentage: 20.8 (14th overall)
Penalty kill percentage: 81.8 (11th overall)

Rangers by the numbers

Goals per game: 3.33 (fifth overall)
Goals allowed per game: 3.14 (tied for eighth most)
Power play percentage: 22.9 (seventh overall)
Penalty kill percentage: 77.4 (tied for 23rd overall)

How they could meet

There a few scenarios in which the Flyers could draw the Rangers for the first round.

If the Flyers earn the No. 1 seed during the round robin and the Rangers are the lowest seed to advance past the qualifying round, those two will meet in the first round.

If the Flyers can grab the No. 2 seed, they could also face New York if both the Rangers and 12th-seeded Canadiens win their qualifying-round series.

Why matchup could be favorable for Flyers

The Flyers completely dictated terms against the Rangers during the regular season, quieting New York with impressive forechecking, breakouts and possession time.

Alain Vigneault's club won all three meetings with the Rangers by a combined score of 15-6. New York can score but it'll give up goals, as well. The Flyers controlled all three contests by playing Vigneault's hard-on-the-attack style.

 

There was also a tangible sense of extra motivation from former Ranger Kevin Hayes playing his old organization and even a little bit from Vigneault, who was fired by New York in April 2018 after missing the playoffs. Hayes scored three goals over the three-game regular-season series and the Rangers might be Carter Hart's best matchup.

Why matchup could be trouble for Flyers

Artemi Panarin is a Hart Memorial Trophy finalist and no team will look forward to facing the 32-goal, 95-point, plus-36 winger. The Flyers held Panarin in check (no goals, three assists, minus-4), but the 28-year-old is a proficient game-changer. He had 28 multi-point performances and the Rangers went 22-5-1 in those games.

New York also has 41-goal center Mika Zibanejad and an interesting goalie trio of Henrik Lundqvist, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev that could pose trouble.

While the Rangers have holes on the back end, a lower seed with nothing to lose and a star player can be dangerous.

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