Welcome back to weeknight hockey! The Flyers met the Rangers for the first time since the preseason, and things went just about as expected. They fended off one desperate team on Saturday, but couldn’t seem to repeat that effort.
Starting things off for the Flyers was the Valterri Filppula line, who promptly sent the puck into the Rangers’ zone, but couldn’t stop them from collecting it, and off they went through the neutral zone again to fend off the rush into their own zone. After a bit of back and forth, the Flyers worked to get something going. With Nolan Patrick shuffling the puck into the offensive zone, he dealt it off to Radko Gudas who did his thing. From just past the top of the right faceoff circle, he threw the puck in, just wide of the net, but luckily Jordan Weal was in place to deflect it in. And the Flyers took the lead, just under three minutes into the period. From there the Flyers kept at this same good work, trying to maintain control of the puck and keep up the pressure in the offensive zone.
Just as it looked like the Flyers were getting settled into their offensive pressure, everything fell apart. As they shuffled the puck around the zone, it made its way to Rick Nash, who, uncovered, broke out of the zone. It was just him and Brian Elliott, and he got one past him. Tie game. *sigh*
From here we saw an uptick in energy from the Flyers, as they kicked up both the speed and the physicality. A rush into the zone by Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny saw the Flyers able to generate a dangerous chance, but Henrik Lundqvist handled it. But it was an effective tone-setter for the few shifts to follow. After a bit of good work, the Flyers let up a bit, and found their attempted plays largely broken up as both teams found themselves caught in the neutral zone. The fourth line would look to get them back on track, as they got to a bit of scrambling and chipping at the puck in front of the net. Here again, the play was neutralized, but it was the first real bit of flash that we saw from that line on the night, and they showed that, with their new arrangement, they could bring some danger and pressure.
We were soon met with more danger, but this time from the other side. Nash again broke out of the zone, but this time Shayne Gostisbehere had him covered, keeping close to him and neutralizing his rush.
Huh, seems funny that we’ve gone more than fifteen minutes without a penalty. This seems good, right? Wha-- what’s that? Oh, looks like Filppula took an interference penalty. And off to the penalty kill we went.
The penalty kill looked good for a hot second. Scott Laughton and Claude Giroux were sprung from the zone and we so close to notching a shorthanded goal, but it just wasn’t meant to be. And, as a reward for that bit of good play, the puck made its way back into to Flyers’ defensive zone, where Ryan McDonagh picked up the power play goal. Things got ugly for a bit after that, as they found themselves still hemmed into their own zone, only able to get a bit of movement going. But, worry not, Jake Voracek would draw a slashing penalty, and the Flyers would get their own crack at the power play.
That power play, however, was not pretty. The Flyers spent more time trying to break up Rangers shorthanded rushes into their own zone. The second unit was just looking like it might be able to get something going, when Weal blew a tire and the Rangers intercepted the puck for a Paul Carey breakaway, and things went just about as expected. No stop to be had. Just another Rangers goal. And with just a few more seconds of power play time, the period expired. I need a moment.
AFTER ONE: Rangers 3, Flyers 1.
And welcome back to the game! The Flyers had five more seconds of power play time to start the period, but unsurprisingly, it didn’t amount to anything. And back to even strength we went.
The Flyers didn’t look flat to start this period, despite the deficit they faced. They got right to work working to generate not just chances, but chances in close. With back to back shifts by the third and fourth lines, they were able to bring the puck into the zone and get to work chipping at it in front of the net. They couldn’t capitalize on these chances, but the looks were good.
Not a good look: the ugly, ugly breakdown by MacDonald and Hagg that led to a point blank chance for the Rangers, one that Elliott had to work hard to neutralize. Big yikes. No more of that, please.
But, getting back on track, the Flyers showed another brief flash. They brought a bit more speed and pressure, trying to move into the offensive zone and again establish a presence. Things looked good for a bit there.
That good-ness was short lived, though, as the Flyers would be shorthanded again, as Voracek went to the box for hooking. This penalty kill went much better than the last. Without the flash of a breakout, they were able to keep the puck cleared out of the zone and moving, eating up time. No goal allowed. Hooray!
Actually, I think I’d like to rescind that hooray. The penalty was killed, but Voracek, fresh out of the box, was stripped of the puck, sending Grabner in on Elliott to notch the fourth consecutive goal for the Rangers. So, sorry guys, I guess I got a little ahead of myself there.
After a bit more back and forth, and more time spent with the Flyers hemmed into their own zone, they were able to break out and move in on Lundqvist with numbers. Skjei would break up that rush with a slash to Raffl, gifting the Flyers with some more power play to maybe do something with.
Spoiler alert: they couldn’t. They were able to bring a bit of extra urgency, but even with a Ranger without a stick, they weren’t able to capitalize. We hit even strength again with no change in score, and just under four minutes to go in the period.
Do we even want to keep talking about this? Bad things keep happening. You know what’s coming. Just as we took notice of the fact that Voracek was being double shifted with the fourth line, play broke down again and the Rangers went flying back into the zone. And Nash picked up his second goal of the night on a laser of a shot.
The period would be closed out, just as the first was, with a Flyers power play that couldn’t get it done. They would have 33 more seconds to try and change that when we came back from intermission, though.
AFTER TWO: Rangers 5, Flyers 1
Oh, hello there. It’s our buddy Michal, jumping into goal for these final twenty minutes. Welcome.
But, anyway, we’ve got a bit more power play to look at. It looked just about exactly how we expected it to, with the Flyers having only 33 seconds left to try and get set and moving. No goal for this attempt. But the movement seemed promising.
The Flyers were able to keep their presence felt in the offensive zone in the shifts that followed, as they slipped into full comeback mode, pushing and still working to get some pressure kicked up.
This pressure was eventually broken up, and Neuvirth soon got his first test of the evening, as the Rangers moved into the zone with speed and Grabner sent in a shot. He handled it well, shoving it off, and the first shot faced was out of the way without incident.
And then...and then…? Honestly I don’t know. Play stopped and I stopped listening for a second and now the commentators are talking about elephant odor? I just… okay fine whatever.
Play started back up and the Flyers got back to work, trying to move into the offensive zone and… okay, yeah, everything’s still falling apart. A turnover sent the puck into the defensive zone and a Buchnevich shove sent Manning into the boards. Play continued and apparently there’s still some pushing and shoving going on over there, but no whistle and no penalties. It was broken up and Neuvirth faced another shot.
And things from here remained relatively quiet. Play didn’t lean heavily towards one side or the other, as we hit quite a bit of back and forth with each side generating some shots, but not a ton of flash or danger. We dipped into the final two minutes of regulation and eyes fell on Neuvirth, to see if he would be beckoned to the bench to let the Flyers get the extra attacker out. But without a solid margin during which the Flyers set up in the offensive zone, he didn’t even have a chance to do so. And, just like that, the final seconds ticked away and the Rangers sent one last puck bouncing in on goal. And it was all over.
FINAL: Rangers 5, Flyers 1