When the Rangers return to the Eastern Conference playoffs against the top-seeded Washington Capitals this week, they’ll hang on tight to thoughts of the 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers.
The Blueshirts have a lot in common with their rivals as they hit the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. The Rangers finished an 11-4-1 final stretch by clinching the eighth seed on Saturday via a win over the Devils and some help when Tampa Bay later knocked off eighth-seed candidate Carolina.
The Flyers barely made last year’s playoffs with a winner-take-all shootout against the Rangers in the season-closer.
Coach John Tortorella, whose team learns the date of Game 1 on Monday, reminded everybody within earshot that those Flyers ran that eighth seed all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, including a historic rally from 3-0 down to the Bruins in the conference final.
“Do I think our team is ready to run through four runs and win a Stanley Cup?” Tortorella asked reporters. “No. But you never know what happens. You watched what happened with Philly last year.”
After taking three of the four meetings against the Caps this year, including 7-0 win at the Garden and a 6-0 win in Washington, the Rangers go in with a head-to-head edge. They haven’t gotten past the conference semifinals since 1997, but the Rangers could be a tough out if 20-goal scorers Brandon Dubinsky, Marion Gaborik and Derek Stepan continue to produce.
A lot like Philly last year.