At a glance: The Rangers hold a 1-0 series edge against the Flyers after a 4-1 win Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The Flyers, who have dropped nine straight games at MSG, look to reverse their fortunes Sunday afternoon as they aim to tie things up before the series shifts back to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4.
Mason out: The Flyers will play their second game without starting goaltender Steve Mason, who is recovering from an upper-body injury sustained in Philadelphia’s penultimate regular-season game on April 12. Backup netminder Ray Emery, who made 32 of 36 saves for Philly on Thursday, is back between the pipes for Game 2. Mason, who practiced for the second straight day on Saturday, said he is still hoping to make his return this series. He’s currently targeting Game 3 as his goal.
Coming up short: Regardless of who is in net for the Flyers, they’ll need a much better effort up front, particularly from their top line of Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Both Giroux and Voracek were held without even a shot on goal Thursday night, as Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist yawned through a game that required him to face a mere 15 shots.
Veteran presence: Rangers 33-year-old center and alternate captain Brad Richards led the way Thursday night, tallying the go-ahead goal and picking up two assists in the team’s playoff opener. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner hopes to sustain such production moving forward, and the Rangers will need it. Also look for top-line winger Rick Nash to have an impact. Though the star forward finished with only one assist on Thursday night, he was active in generating chances, leading the team with seven shots on goal. And though Martin St. Louis has struggled to score since landing in New York on trade deadline day last month, playoff hockey is where this type of player usually shines. Who steps up in Game 2 for the Rangers? Or will it be the Flyers’ forwards who assert themselves in the Sunday matinee? Stay tuned ...