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Flyers' top line ready for Rangers' defensive pressure

by Adam Kimelman

NEW YORK -- One of the more interesting games within the game will come when the Philadelphia Flyers deploy their top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek against the New York Rangers' top defense pair of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

With Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round series Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH, MSG) at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers have the advantage of having the last change.

Said Hartnell on what he's learned from four regular-season games against McDonagh and Girardi: "How good they are, especially here."

In four games against the Flyers this season, McDonagh had one goal, one assist and a plus-2 rating, and Girardi had no points and an even rating.

"We have to get it behind them, make them go 200 feet, be physical on them every chance you get," Hartnell said. "In a seven-game series that's wear and tear on them. If we're not turning pucks over, especially our line, against those two guys we'll be fairly effective."

Giroux said he was more concerned with how he and his linemates were playing rather than how the opposition was going to attack them.

"I think it's important we focus on our game, not so much on them," he said. "We know they're good defensively and their goalie is pretty sharp. But I think it's important for us to focus on our game, and not so much on how they're going to play and how they're going to react. We have to play our game and make them react to us."

Part of the Flyers' plan for dealing with the Rangers' defensive pressure will be a strong start.

"The start for us is going to be huge," Hartnell said. "Both teams probably will have a little bit of nerves in them. The team that keeps it simple, gets pucks deep ... if you make a couple cute passes, they're pretty good defensively coming back and they're going to get odd-man rushes our way. The simplest team will have the best start and we'll have a lot of energy."

Here is the projected lineup for Thursday:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jason Akeson

Zac Rinaldo - Vincent Lecavalier - Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Ray Emery

Calvin Heeter

Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Chris VandeVelde, Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson

Injured: Steve Mason (upper body), Steve Downie (upper body)


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