For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, NHL.com has enlisted the help of former NHL assistant coach Gord Murphy to break down the action. Murphy will be checking in throughout the series.
Murphy enjoyed a 14-season career as an NHL defenseman before spending seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets and most recently serving as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.
For Gord Murphy, the difference in the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, which starts Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH, MSG), is goaltending, and how the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist will be the biggest difference-maker.
"I can see it going seven games, and with New York's home-ice advantage and Lundqvist, that is the deciding factor," Murphy told NHL.com.
Lundqvist went 2-1-0 against the Flyers this season and allowed six goals on 100 shots. In 45 career games against Philadelphia he has 27 wins, four shutouts, a .916 save percentage and a 2.49 goals-against average.
Murphy, who played 14 seasons in the NHL, knows what can happen to players when a goalie has as much success against a team as Lundqvist has against the Flyers.
"Yes, he could get into the opposition's head," he said. "Players start to hesitate, over-think, trying to place their shots and become more discouraged."
Another goaltending factor working against the Flyers is the absence of Steve Mason, who will miss at least Game 1 of the series with an upper-body injury. Ray Emery will replace him.
Working in Emery's favor is his playoff experience. While Mason has started four postseason games in his NHL career, Emery has a 20-15 record in 36 games. He led the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 and was the backup to Corey Crawford last season when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Cup.
While Emery's playoff experience certainly is a plus, the drop-off in skill level outweighs it.
"Ray Emery can provide quality goaltending and has tons of experience," Murphy said, "but I don't feel it's the same as what a No. 1 like Mason would provide."