Tonight's game was billed as a possible preview of the playoffs. If that ends up being the case come April, let's hope the Flyers are able to deliver a more positive outcome following tonight's 3-1 loss.
The game certainly started with a playoff feel to it -- play kept going back and forth to opposite ends of the ice, with both teams picking up some quality chances. The Flyers looked pretty good to start the period, but so did the Rangers. That's basically what you'd expect from two teams that are fighting for a spot in the standings.
The Rangers got the scoring going a few minutes in off a rather fortuitous chance. Brian Boyle whipped the puck in front of the net where an uncovered Derek Dorsett was able to tip it past Mason. Kind of a strange sequence, but it would have been nice if someone from the Flyers' defense was there to help.
By the end of the first period, the Flyers definitely got things clicking -- particularly due to a solid power play effort -- but alas, were unable to even the score.
About five minutes into the second period, the Flyers definitely looked like the better team. They were outchancing the Rangers 12-6, outshooting them, and beating them in the possession game. Sometimes that doesn't translate, though, and Ryan McDonagh was able to give New York a two-goal lead after ripping a pure shot past Mason.
Despite a few close calls for both teams, McDonagh's goal would prove to be the only one of the stanza. Even though the Flyers were keeping pace with the Rangers, the game was starting to look like a sure win for New York.
The premonition of a Flyers loss got even stronger about halfway through the third, when Steve Mason let up a softie to give the Rangers a three-goal lead. Jakub Voracek was able to get the Flyers on the board late in the third, but at that point, it was pretty academic. Still, seeing Henrik Lundqvist not get a shutout was fun.
*There was some disconcerting play tonight from unusual suspects. Both the top line and the top defensive pairing looked a little…off. We probably shouldn't put too much stock into that (sometimes guys have off nights), but seeing those five guys not put forth a solid performance this late in an uncertain season was a little upsetting.
*As disappointing as the top guys' play was, the fourth line looked damn good and generated perhaps the most memorable chances for the Flyers. Around these parts, we like to attribute that to the emergence of Michael Raffl. But to be honest, all three of them -- particularly Adam Hall -- looked surprisingly impressive.
*True to form, Wayne Simmonds had a good number of chances down low tonight. Kurt pointed out how great Simmonds is at picking up goals right in front of the net (particularly on the power play), and while Wayne didn't convert tonight, it wasn't due to lack of effort.
*Kimmo Timonen left the ice in the second period after blocking a nasty shot. He was M.I.A. for a little while there, but eventually returned to the bench. I'd be lying if I said I didn't expect him to make a return, but that was pretty terrifying. Losing their best defenseman is something the Flyers definitely don't need right now.
*Henrik Lundqvist is a jerk, and definitely contributed to the Ranger's win tonight in a big way. As Kurt asked us earlier tonight, "why are people allowed to be as handsome AND as good at their jobs as that guy is?" Not fair. So sir.