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Flyers 5, Rangers 4: Welcome back to the 80’s

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Flyers vs. Rangers is apparently the kind of hockey that’s infused with cocaine, huh.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers met the Rangers tonight in Manhattan four the third time this year. What were the storylines, who scored the goals, and where will the team go from here? All that below.

First Period

The Orange & Black came to play in the opening twenty minutes, particularly the “JFC” line. A beautiful bump by Sean Couturier up to Joel Farabee led to a wide open goal for James “Jimbo” van Riemsdyk. The Rangers responded with a bit of pushback, but Ivan Provorov gave Philly a bit of insurance off the face-off to make it 2-0.

Carter Hart started the game off right, stopping a tricky play from Artemi Panarin in close. The young goalie was still playing noticeably more timid than how he was last year, but a stop like that does wonders for confidence. Special teams were largely uneventful, with both teams failing to score on the single power play opportunity they each received.

Overall, Philadelphia took the opening minutes. The Flyers essentially doubled up the Rags in shots on goal and broke about even in xGF and CF. The chemistry between the forwards was clicking, the defense looked a tad shaky but didn’t give up a goal, and Philly exited the period with a two goal lead.

Second Period

In typical Flyers fashion, nothing could be simple. The Rangers began to dictate pace, moving through the neutral zone with ease en route to free zone entries. Communication issues abounded on the Philly blue line, with Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere in particular having trouble swapping coverages with their partners.

As the Rangers conquered the overall pulse of the game, the goals began to pour in. Horrific gap control by the Flyers (looking at you, Nate Prosser) lead directly to an Artemi Panarin slam dunk to make it 2-1. Another weakly contested give-and-go gave Colin Blackwell a similarly wide open net, tying the game at 2-2.

The third New York goal was especially brutal. Shayne Gostisbehere got walked by Julien Gauthier, who cradled the puck, took it to the goal and roofed it past Hart. Brilliant play by Gauthier, embarrassing display by Ghost.

Thankfully, Gauthier gave the Flyers a good chance to knot the game at 3-3 by taking a high sticking penalty on Travis Konecny. After leaving the game briefly in the first period due to taking a puck off the skate in a bad spot, Joel Farabee made no mistake, tallying his first power play goal of the year.

The Flyers exited the second period on the penalty kill, lucky to be in a tie game against a team they should have been on even footing with.

Third Period

The start of the third wasn’t exactly auspicious for the Orange & Black. Multiple skaters falling on the penalty kill left Carter Hart facing a 4-on-1, but the Flyers’ netminder made the save. Even after killing off the penalty, the Rangers maintained a vice grip on scoring chances. Nolan Patrick abandoned his man to aimlessly float in the corner, Shayne Gostisbehere got caught puck watching and failed to challenge Kevin Rooney from just outside the slot, handing the Rangers the lead again.

Another careless high stick by Gauthier gave the Flyers their best opportunity of the period to take back momentum. The double minor on Giroux was almost extended by a delay of game call, but the refs completely missed it and called it a deflection. Fortunately, a dime from Jake Voracek on the half wall was tipped in by Captain Claude to tie the game. Notably, Ivan Provorov notched his 100th career assist on the goal.

The second half of the double minor wasn’t nearly as fun, with the most notable events being a few near misses by the Rangers shorthanded and a missed boarding that took Travis Konecny down behind Kinkaid. Both teams traded punches before a Michael Raffl sent New York to the powerplay.

The penalty kill stifled the Blueshirts and even managed a shorthanded breakaway thanks to a beautiful stretch pass by Claude Giroux. Scott Laughton couldn’t bury it on the uncontested play, but the speedy winger drew a crosscheck from Ryan Strome to give the Flyers a good chance to take the lead. After a near miss on a Jake Voracek breakaway, Kevin Hayes buried a shot from the right dot to finally hand the Orange & Black the lead. What? You’re telling me it was offside? Ah, unfortunate.

After Phil Myers nearly caused the game-losing goal by falling down and giving up a 2-on-1, everything swung the way of Philadelphia. The last few seconds of regulation were all Flyers, but the final push wasn’t enough to end it in 60 minutes. Free hockey. Yay.

Overtime

What, you thought 3-on-3 hockey was supposed to be fun? The Rangers detest this concept and would prefer to skate in circles until the shootout starts. Jake Voracek and Travis Sanheim stared these peasants down, with the big Czech netting the overtime winner after a 1:51 shift. Sanheim had a crucial shutdown of Artemi Panarin to start the play, redeeming him somewhat after a rough night on the job.

Three Big Things

  1. This was the worst overall performance by the blue line this entire year. Shayne Gostisbehere was horrific, Ivan Provorov got lost frequently, Nate Prosser was a flaming bag of dog poop, and Phil Myers made a number of boneheaded turnovers. When Justin Braun is the steadiest guy on the back end, you’ve got a problem. It might be (just maybe) time for Chuck Fletcher to do something about that.
  2. Carter Hart had one of his best games of the year, despite the score. Every goal allowed by Hart aside from the Gauthier and Rooney tallies was a product of awful defense, and even those two goals were tough ones to stop. The struggles of Hart have been a focal point of the team’s failures this year, but tonight he stood tall and made a number of key saves to keep the Flyers in it.
  3. Claude Giroux willed the team to a win tonight for what has to be the millionth such performance in his career, so I don’t want to hear any more speculation about how he’s a bad captain or the team has no heart. Again, as I said in my preview today, the problem isn’t effort, but execution and decision making. Put some respect on the captain’s name.

Victory Jam

Claude Giroux for Selke. If you know, you know.