Here's the worst part about the Flyers fifth loss of the season to the New York Rangers: it was probably the best of all five games by the Flyers. It doesn't feel like that given defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown in the third period, but the Flyers were legitimately the better team for the first 40 minutes of the hockey game.
The Rangers power play absolutely ate the Flyers penalty killing units apart all game long, but at five-on-five, the Flyers did a great job getting in front of Henrik Lundqvist and generating quality scoring chances. It sucks, too, because the PK has actually been pretty strong lately, and the power play has probably been the lone bright spot over the last week of frustrating hockey.
"Obviously, they got three or four goals on the power play," said Claude Giroux afterwards. "I think we have to stay out of the box. We know they have a good power play and we shot ourselves in the foot. I think we didn't play that bad, but if we played five-on-five with them we'd win this game. That wasn't the case tonight."
Special teams decided the game, and the Flyers were just absolutely demolished in anything that resembled special teams. We could try to take the silver lining -- that the Flyers were the better team at even strength -- and look at that as a benefit. But it's already February, and the Flyers have lost five games to the Rangers in just about five different ways. They've lost on the road, they've lost outside, and now they've lost at home.
The Rangers have won close games, come-from-behind games, and laughable games, but no matter the way they've reached the final result, each one has been fair. They're just a better team, and the Flyers cannot beat them. Let's just hope this isn't a matchup in the playoffs.