Going into the 2015-16 season, it was obvious that the Philadelphia Flyers' roster had severe limitations which could prevent them from playing competitive hockey. Now, with key players Sean Couturier and Michael Del Zotto out of the lineup due to injuries, the results are starting to match the preseason fears.
Against a rival who they had mostly outplayed in the previous four matchups this season, the Flyers could not generate much of anything and lost to the New York Rangers by a score of 3-1. Only a late, meaningless goal from Brayden Schenn prevented Philadelphia from suffering the indignity of a shutout defeat. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves, while Steve Mason stopped 26 for the Flyers.
The talk leading up to tonight's game was that the Rangers would attempt to "avenge" Ryan McDonagh as retribution for Wayne Simmonds' knockout punch on their captain last weekend. It took only 39 seconds before they did just that, as Dylan McIlrath challenged the Flyers' power forward to an early bout. Clearly feeling left out, Rangers enforcer Tanner Glass then fought Ryan White just twenty seconds later.
With the extracurriculars out of the two teams' respective systems, it was time to actually play hockey, and New York struck first. Derick Brassard blasted around Flyers defenseman Mark Streit on the rush and was able to tuck a wraparound past Steve Mason to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead. The rest of the period was filled with fruitless special teams play for both sides, as the Flyers killed off two New York power plays while failing to capitalize on a double-minor opportunity of their own.
The Rangers pushed the tempo to start the second period, but the Flyers slowly improved as the period progressed. Yet again, Philadelphia did not lack for power play chances, but could not find a way to beat all-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Brayden Schenn rang a shot off the post during one of the Flyers' power plays, and Nick Cousins was stoned by Lundqvist on a high-quality chance from the slot. As a result, Philadelphia would need third period heroics in order to come away with a victory against their division rivals.
But the heroics were nowhere to be found tonight. Despite the one-goal lead, the Rangers showed no signs of letting up, controlling play in defiance of the usual score effects. It was Derek Stepan who put the game out of reach, scoring two goals in a 3:20 span to extend New York's advantage to three goals. The remainder of the contest saw the Flyers desperately trying to help Shayne Gostisbehere extend his points streak, which he was able to do by adding a secondary assist on Schenn's goal with 9.8 seconds left. Still, that was the lone bright spot in a tough loss for Philadelphia.
Questions to Answer:
- Does any stupid stuff happen as a follow-up to the pleasantries these teams exchanged last weekend? Wayne Simmonds fought Dylan McIlrath 39 seconds into the game, and then Ryan White tangled with Tanner Glass twenty seconds later. Yeah, lots of stupid stuff in this one.
- Poor starts have been a significant problem for the Flyers lately. Tonight? The start certainly wasn't sleepy, and emotions were high on both sides after the fights. The Flyers didn't get dominated on the ice in the first period, but the Rangers did get the period's only goal, so the start certainly could have been better.
- With Del Zotto now out long-term and AMac and Medvedev back in, how does Hakstol use his pairings on defense? The pairing of Radko Gudas and Evgeny Medvedev surprisingly saw the most ice time at 5-on-5. That may have been due to Hakstol riding the hot hand, however, as Medvedev in particular had a strong night. It was a road game, so tough to make any evaluations on with pairing was getting the toughest matchups.
- Read and Laughton are back in the lineup after a two-game vacation. Anything of note happen with them? They received the least amount of 5-on-5 ice time on the team, and Read hurt his knee blocking a Dylan McIlrath shot as time expired. So yeah.
- Ghostbear. Point streak. 12 games? With time running out, Gostisbehere was able to earn a secondary assist on Brayden Schenn's goal. Regardless of the point, this was far from Ghost's best game.
Comment of the Night:
NOBODY CARES, GOSTISBEHERE’S POINT STREAK IS ALIVE