Round 2 Matchup: who ya got?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will duke it out tonight in a Game 7, with the winner to move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins....As Penguins fans we look at the details, recent stats and try to determine which matchup would be favorable to the Pens.

Playoff hockey games without rooting interest are so much easier to digest. When it's your team it's a rollercoaster of emotions and very intense. When you're more detached, you can soak in the entertainment and enjoy the game without the negative parts.

With that in mind, tonight might be one of the best nights of hockey of the entire year. There are three Game 7's and the Pittsburgh Penguins spot in the second round is already secured. No stress, but definitely piqued interest in the Philadelphia / New York series that will decide which scumbags meet the Pens.

Now, of course, the question becomes who should the Pens want to face? Really, it doesn't truly matter, if you keep winning, you're going to keep playing better teams and other winners, the path to the Cup is never an easy one.

As they say in boxing "styles make fights". Styles also make playoff series. Let's take a look at how we think both teams would matchup against the Penguins and which teams would have which edge against Pittsburgh.

Rangers

Flyers


FORWARDS

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DEFENSE

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GOALIE


SPECIAL TEAMS

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Between Ryan McDonaugh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman, there's little doubt that the Rangers have a better defensive core of players that would look to shutdown Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Likewise, Henrik Lundqvist against Steve Mason is a no-brainer and an edge for the Rangers in talent. However, looking at this year's performances against the Penguins, a different story emerges:

  • Steve Mason vs. Pens: 2-1, 1.92 GAA, .933 save %, 1 shutout
  • Henrik Lundqvist vs Pens: 2-1-1, 2.88 GAA, .898 sv %

Clearly, anyone would rather choose against Mason rather than face "The King", but styles make fights. Historically the Penguins have been able to feast on Lundqvist, even dating back to the 2008 playoffs when they scored 14 goals on him in a fairly easy five game series win. That was ages ago, but is more evidence that Lundqvist may not be as scary for Pittsburgh as his reputation suggests.

Mason has also looked pretty strong since coming back from a concussion, giving up just six goals in three games and helping the Flyers win two of them to stay alive and force the Game 7.

The biggest x-factor though, is the forwards. Philadelphia has the speed, size, skill and aggressiveness to go toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh. From Wayne Simmonds to Scott Hartnell to Claude Giroux to Sean Couturier to Brayden Schenn and on down the depth chart the Flyers have no shortage of good forwards. They also know how to engage the Pens after the whistle and throw them off their game. Even though Pittsburgh knows that they can't and shouldn't stoop to the antics, they always seem to fall into that trap.

Ultimately, it won't really matter- the Rangers have some good forwards and the Flyers defense can even cobble together some good play at times too. The Pens are going to face a rival next round that will be eager and excited for the chance to move on from a Game 7 and looking to knock Pittsburgh out. Knowing everything we do, which team would you pick, as a Penguin fan, if you were able to select the winner for the best chance of Pens success?

Vote in our poll, take a shower (you'll feel dirty choosing either one of these idiot teams) and then let us know in the comments what you're thinking and how you're feeling.

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