Wayne Simmonds takes the body on Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman during last Wednesday's tilt between the Metropolitan Division rivals. (Photo Courtesy of NJ.com)
Thanks in part to NHL realignment, the Flyers and Rangers have a strong possibility of meeting in the first round of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, and would do so if the season ended today. 'Broadway vs. Broad Street' is one of the league's most storied rivalries, and if that series does go down as planned, it could become one of the most memorable in recent Flyers history. This week's Flyers Five breaks down why a Flyers-Rangers playoff series must happen.
5. It expands the Philly/NY rivalry: The Sixers aren't nearly competitive enough to hang with both New York clubs, the Phillies and Mets are dismal and the 2009 World Series is slowly becoming a distant memory. While we still have Eagles-Giants to enjoy, a Flyers/Rangers playoff series would provide yet another storyline in the fabled Philly-New York rivalry.
4. It hasn't happened since 1997: The Flyers and Rangers have met in the playoffs 10 times, the last time being the 1997 Eastern Conference final. While the 2009-10 regular season finale between the teams had the feel and vitriol of a playoff game -- with the final spot on the line -- it was still the regular season. It's safe to say we're long due for another matchup.
3. New coaches would face off: One element that fueled the Flyers-Rangers fire was the two winningest American-born coaches in John Tortorella and Peter Laviolette. With both coaches gone, we'd get to see what Craig Berube and Alain Vigneault have to offer for a series in their new environments. Vigneault has coached through two consecutive first-round exits after leading Vancouver to the Final, while Berube would coach his first playoff series since the 2008 Atlantic Division final as Phantoms coach.
2. It provides the Flyers a benchmark: The Flyers still are -- believe it or not -- an up-and-coming club, and are making substantial progress in their rebuild. Only 12 players (13 if you count Chris Pronger) remain from the team's last playoff appearance in 2012, and Steve Mason could earn his first playoff win in his first appearance since 2009. Depending on the outcome of a Rangers series, the front office would get the opportunity to evaluate where the club stands, and see what changes need to be made for 2014-15.
1. A restored rivalry would intensify: While the Flyers and Rangers have always provided chippy, truculent and entertaining hockey to watch as well as multiple Eric Lindros situations, the rivalry's been somewhat put on the backburner ever since some guy named Sidney entered the league in 2005, effectively shifting the Flyers' focus. The 2012 Winter Classic helped spark the rivalry back up, and both teams have established themselves as formidable playoff contenders over the past several seasons. A playoff series would only intensify the rivalry tenfold, and provide some great hockey for fans everywhere to enjoy.