Saturday, April 10, 2010
The Battle for the Playoffs
Rangers +120 +1.5 (-250) Over 5.5 (+110)
Flyers -140 -1.5 (+210) Under 5.5 (-130)
Going into Friday night, the mission for the Rangers was simple. Win two games against division rival the Philadelphia Flyers and at least one of them in regulation, and you will join 15 other NHL teams in their quest to win the Stanley Cup. After Friday nights game, the Rangers accomplished two things. The first being a win and the second being a regulation win. Now the Rangers can complete their improbable playoff birth by defeating the Flyers for the second time in three days Sunday afternoon.
On Friday, an early giveaway led to a Flyers goal and lead just 40 seconds into the game. The Rangers would battle back eventually taking a 3-1 lead in the 2nd period. The Rangers saw that lead evaporate with little over 5 minutes remaining in the 2nd period. However, Rangers star Marion Gaborik gave the Rangers the lead for good just about two minutes later.
On Sunday, we can throw out all the statistics between these two teams and focus on two important facts. The first being that the Rangers have been the much better team down the stretch and seem to be clicking like a playoff team should while the Flyers have really struggled, only winning 3 games in their last 11. Since this game is like a playoff game, we look at one other important factor; goaltending. Henrik Lunqvist has once again proven that he is a top tier goalie in this league. The Rangers would not be anywhere without his consistent play. On the other hand, the Flyers have had their goaltending issues and now have throw their playoff hopes on Brian Boucher, the journeyman veteran can provide a break for a starter if injured for a couple of weeks but Sunday will be Boucher's 14th straight start, something he hasn't been used too in years.
SureShotPick: With both teams going in opposite directions, and their respective goalie situations, look for the Rangers to finish off their improbable but impressive run to the postseason.
Rangers straight up.