Broadway Blueshirts Take on Broad Street Bullies in First Round

The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have not met in the playoffs since 1997, but that will change thanks to the NHL's new playoff format that has the Rangers and Flyers pitted against one another in the first round this year.

It's Broadway vs. Broad Street in what will undoubtedly be a heated series between the two longtime rivals, as both teams look to begin a quest for the Stanley Cup.

"I think we can expect more of the same; these two teams hate each other and the series is going to be a war," said Ramapo senior Nick Calabrase, an avid Rangers fan. "However, whatever team comes out on top is going to be very bruised and tired for the next round."

Both teams will turn to key players to carry them in this series. For the Flyers, the most obvious is captain Claude Giroux. After a slow start to the season, Giroux found his game by November and finished third in the NHL in points with 86 and fourth in assists with 58.

Giroux will need to keep up his offensive production in the playoffs against a stingy New York defense that finished the season with the fourth lowest goals against in the league.

"He will be the key to the series for the Flyers," said Ramapo senior and Flyers fan, Kevin Wilson. is the catalyst for the whole team. If he plays at a higher level than [Henrik] Lunqvist, the Flyers should win the series."

The Rangers will need Martin St. Louis, who they acquired at the trade deadline, to produce more in the playoffs than he did during the regular season in New York. St. Louis led the league in regular season points last season, and was off to a similar pace this year in Tampa Bay.

In 62 games with the Lightning, he had 61 points in 62 games, but his production fell greatly upon the trade to New York. He had just eight points and only one goal in his last 19 games of the season.

"It's only a matter of time. Add his scoring to an already deep roster that has balanced scoring and I think that it will push the Rangers over the top to the Stanley Cup Finals," Calabrase said.

The glory of a Stanley Cup Championship, and everything that comes with it, has eluded both of these teams for some time.

The Rangers' last Stanley Cup came in 1994, breaking a 54-year-long drought. The Flyers have to look a little farther back to 1974 and 1975 when they won back-to-back.

The teams split four games during the regular season and are looking to build on past playoff performances to reach the Stanley Cup Final this season.

The Flyers missed the post season last year for the second time since 1994. The Rangers have now qualified for the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons.

2010, the last year New York did not make the playoffs, was also another chapter of the historic rivalry. In the last game of the season, the Flyers defeated the Rangers in a shoot out to eliminate New York from playoff contention. The Flyers then went on a run to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost to Chicago in six games.

"This group has been reported as being much more tight-knit than the 2010 team. If they play as a team, they can win the Cup," Wilson said.

The Rangers have not made the Stanley Cup Final since they won in 1994, but did make it to the Eastern Conference Final in 2012, losing to their other arch rival, the New Jersey Devils in six.

The Rangers and Flyers met on the big stage during the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia, which New York won 3-2, but that will not compare to what this first round series will mean for these teams.

The puck drops on Thursday at 7 p.m. in what will become the latest chapter in the intense rivalry between New York and Philadelphia.