The Flyers' misfortunes at MSG continued as they hit the halfway point of the season with a thud thanks to some questionable defense and bad line changes. And Rick Nash, too.
The most frustrating losses -- and this is true of every sport ever, not just hockey -- are the ones where you see the same thing happening on every misfortune your team suffers, and yet even though it's plain as day, they keep happening. Whether it's because of stupid mistakes, bad coaching, or the other team just being better, it's mind-numbingly frustrating every time.
And we saw that tonight. In a game that marked the halfway point of this abbreviated season, the Flyers lost for the sixth straight time in New York City. And all four goals against coming in no small part due to either some very poor transition defense or a fantastically bad line change. (Or both.) All right after some up-ice pass that made it around a Flyers defender. Again, whether that's due to a lack of talent or something else is up to you, but it's got to stop. (A lack of speed for a lot of the game seemed to strike me, too. Oh, hey, Eric Wellwood, how's your press box popcorn taste?)
Not a whole lot went right after that second goal in the first period -- which, by the way, marked the first time the Flyers had even held a lead in MSG in over two years -- and, as he is wont to do, Henrik Lundqvist made a few more saves than Ilya Bryzgalov down the stretch. And now the Flyers sit in ninth place in the conference -- while everyone behind them has games in hand -- and aren't even fake-.500 anymore.
Oh. And apparently, entering tonight, all five of Rick Nash's goals this year had come in the third period. That trend continued. Probably shouldn't have got too excited when he was invisible through the first two periods, because his two goals were both pretty nasty. We may have his younger, more talented linemate of years past, but man did he kill it in the third.
Some other scattered thoughts:
* After all that negativity, let's try a positive note: it's kinda hard to fathom how bad this team's power play was at the beginning of the year because right now it's just on fire. Two goals in the first period. One from Wayne Simmonds after some fantastic passing by Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, another by Voracek himself as he snatched and roofed his own rebound from Henrik Lundqvist. The absolutely fantastic seasons for those two continue, and the PP% has moved all the way up to sixth in the league.
* That second Rangers goal came thanks to the Flyers being caught in the middle of a very poor change that left Luke Schenn, who had just stepped off the bench, alone and sliding across the ice, flailing his stick in futility. Ryan Callahan proceeded to make him look silly before whipping it around Ilya Bryzgalov and into the net on a very nice move. The fourth goal came in similar fashion, with Nash getting a step on two Flyers right off of a change and having enough room to make a move on Bryz. Really not a banner night for any Flyers defensemen.
* More injury-related angst after the first period ended when we learned that Nicklas Grossmann wouldn't return thanks to a lower-body injury.
Via several beat reporters on Twitter (I believe Tim Panaccio was the first one I saw with it), apparently it's a hip flexor Via Howard Eskin on Twitter and later confirmed by others, it's apparently a groin pull and there will be an MRI on Wednesday morning. No idea how severe and/or whether or not it'll hold him out of Thursday's game. Let's hope not--he's done a good job against Malkin in his Flyers career and losing him would be big.
* Despite getting beat on the first goal, shoutout to the penalty kill, which managed to kill off three penalties after Grossmann left without really letting the Rangers get anything going. Special teams have come into form lately.
* I think the most interesting moment in the scoreless second period came when everyone seemed to realize why exactly the camera angles towards the bottom of the ice looked so bad: some big, rusty beam in MSG that was impossible to not see once you saw it the first time. Nice to know that's just hanging out there where the cameras are.
* Not that this was really Ilya Bryzgalov's fault, because he was plainly hung out to dry and I wouldn't really pin any of the goals against tonight on him, but he seems to be having some trouble with the poke check. Whiffed with it on both the second and fourth Ranger goals.
* Lastly: really, really terrifying moment in the third period when Marc Staal got hit right in the eye with a deflected slapshot from Timonen. He, obviously, did not return to the game. Here's hoping he's alright, because (a) he's had serious concussion issues in the past, and (b) we're all far too familiar with our players getting struck in the head with various objects and know how bad that can be. Also: visors. Please. Visors.
Overall, not a great start to this really tough week we've got, and it ain't getting any easier with Pittsburgh and Boston coming up.
Questions to Answer
- Jake Scoracek keeps going, right? Hahaha what a silly question of course he does. A goal and an assist in the first period, both on the PP. Six shots on net.
- Danny Briere had a big game last time vs. NYR (10 shots on goal, all over the ice, nothing to show on the score sheet). Can he repeat the bid and maybe net a goal or two this time? His line had a few nice chances towards the tail end of the second period. Didn't notice too much of him otherwise. Ended with three shots on goal.
- The Rangers are a dangerous team with Rick Nash in the lineup -- winless without him, 10-5-2 with him. Whether that's a fluke or not, he's also their leading scorer, so can the Flyers shut him down? He had no shots and was basically invisible through the first two periods, so naturally he was the one to score the game-winning and game-sealing goals. All seven tallies for him this year in the third period.
- How does Mike Knuble look in his return to action? Played 8:57, barely noticed him. Seemed to be moving as quickly as the rest of the team, which says more about them then it does him.
Comment of the Night:
I dont understand why players still dont wear visors after all the career ending eye injuries…
Back home on Thursday night to face the Penguins. Go Flyers.