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10 observations from Flyers-Rangers Game 1
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NEW YORK -- Ten random observations from the Flyers’ 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series (see Instant Replay).

1. The first 10 minutes of any playoff series are among the most important and the Flyers made it a point to hit the ice with disciplined energy Thursday night. They took the early lead, but the thing is, it didn’t result from their best hockey. Adam Hall took an interference penalty a few minutes in and the Flyers went 7:28 without so much as a shot. Of course, when they finally did get a shot, it beat Henrik Lundqvist to give them that 1-0 lead. But they probably weren’t fully pleased with those first few minutes nonetheless.

2. Did the Rangers’ D-to-D passes look off to anyone else? Especially early and especially on their power play? For such a strong blue line, it was strange to see the defense so shaky. They were also iffy in the offensive zone, as well, where they let pucks slip out of their possession multiple times early on and whiffed on a few shots.

3. Andrew MacDonald scored the Flyers’ first goal, but much of the credit should go to Scott Hartnell. The big winger took out Ryan McDonagh with a hit, stripped him of the puck and set up the play that resulted in the marker. It was exactly what the Flyers need from Hartnell -- and a very good sign, considering Hartnell has been in a bit of a slump in recent weeks.

4. Speaking of McDonagh … So much was made of him and how critical he would be to the Rangers in this series. But he had a rough outing in Game 1, slipping up on a few passes and turning the puck over. He also took an ill-timed third-period penalty, as well, though the Rangers were able to kill it off.

5. A rare breakdown by Sean Couturier led in part to the Rangers’ tying goal. Couturier is usually so strong on defense, but he got caught behind Mats Zuccarello and didn’t move his feet. You saw the result. In fairness to Couturier though, he played well through most of the rest of the game.

6. You have to feel for Jason Akeson. He had been playing so well through 50 minutes of the game -- his first ever NHL playoff game, just his third game ever at the NHL level. And then he took a double-minor for high-sticking in the third period and the Rangers took a 2-1 lead on Brad Richards’ goal.

7. How much of a momentum-changer was Akeson’s penalty? It’s funny -- the Rangers controlled the pace of the entire game, but it wasn’t until Akeson’s double-minor that they really seemed to come alive and get Ray Emery moving. Four unanswered goals can't happen in the playoffs.

8. Even though they were outshot the entire game, the Flyers largely did a good job of keeping the Rangers to the outside in their zone. This limited most of the Rangers’ shots to odd angles that were easier for Emery to manage, and also kept the Flyers’ goalie from having to do too much side-to-side movement -- something he can struggle with.

9. Brayden Schenn took a high sticking call in the second period that negated what would have been a much-needed Flyers power play. He has to know better -- the Flyers needed something to capture the momentum that period and Schenn’s move was absolutely unnecessary.

10. This game was a perfect “steal” opportunity for the Flyers. They were outplayed through practically all of it, and yet kept the score tied 1-1 into the third period. Unfortunately, they let it slip away. The Rangers keep hold of their home-ice advantage, at least for a few more days.