Fast starts key to Flyers’ finish

Unlike basketball, if you wait until the final period to tune into a Flyers’ game, it’s probably too late. By then the outcome has likely been decided.

So be on hand early Friday when the Flyers and Rangers begin a pivotal home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden to wrap up the regular season. A win or two nonregulation losses will wrap up a playoff spot for Peter Laviolette’s gang, which can finish anywhere from sixth to ninth and out of the playoffs.

With tensions running high, whichever team blinks first will be in trouble. Especially if it’s the Flyers, who have gone 33-9-6 when scoring first, but only 7-25 when having to come from behind.

“I don’t know why that is,” said defenseman Chris Pronger. “Some teams are like that.”

“We need to get off to good starts,” said Kimmo Timonen. “We can’t wait to get into the game.”

The key for the Flyers is striking quickly. Not only would that force the Rangers to play catch up, but it might take the crowd out of it and make things a lot easier. On Sunday, the series shifts to the Wachovia Center.

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