The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers were two of the best teams in the NHL last season. Many things can change in a year, however, and this is the case with these two teams. The Flyers were a disappointing 11-11-1 heading into Tuesday’s game at Madison Square Garden while the Rangers have fallen under expectations so far with a 10-8-2 record. Heading into the tilt, the Rangers were one point out of 8th place in the Eastern Conference, which was occupied by the Flyers. An important two points were on the line Tuesday evening and both teams knew the stakes were high.
It didn’t take long for the puck to enter the net. Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen would take a holding penalty just a minute and a half in, sending the Rangers to the power-play. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan would convert a beautiful pass down low from Derik Stephan to pot his 6th goal of the season. Bryzgalov went down early and couldn’t get across as Stephan fed a wide open Callahan who put it over the outstretched arm of Bryz.
The Flyers would get their own man advantage around six minutes later where they would even the score. The team combined for a terrific passing play where Wayne Simmonds would end up converting with his team leading 10th goal of the season. Jakub Voracek would cycle the puck down low to captain Claude Giroux who would immediately fire cross-ice to a wide open Simmonds. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundvist couldn’t get over in time as Simmonds sniped it into an open net.
The red hot Flyers power-play would later take advantage of a Callahan hooking call to take the lead. The team’s leading scorer Jakub Voracek would bury his own rebound to put the Flyers up 2-1. He took a feed from Simmonds and fired on Lundqvist. His first shot was turned away but the rebound went straight to the youngster who pulled it to the side to put it upstairs into an open net. Simmonds and Voracek both finished the first period with 2 power-play points apiece.
Ryan Callahan was in the box for Voracek’s tally but he would redeem himself before the period ended. The Rangers captain took a pass from defenseman Ryan McDonagh and came down the left wing into the Flyers zone. He would take the puck down the wing and then cut tight to the net and tuck the puck around Bryzgalov for his second goal of the game. Bryzgalov missed with the pokecheck and Callahan tucked the puck right around Bryzgalov who was tight to the post.
After a goalless second period, the action picked up just minutes into the third. After a Lundqvist save on Voracek, Rick Nash would head up ice the other direction and snap one by Bryzgalov. The flashy forward snapped the puck under the stick arm of Bryz for his third goal in as many games since returning from injury. He put the Rangers up 3-2 early in the third period. Nash would add his second of the game later in the period when he took a pass from Ryan Callahan and drove to the net on a partial breakaway. He was hooked on the play but managed to deke around Bryzgalov and put the Rangers up 4-2. Bryzgalov seemed hesitant with the pokecheck and his indecision led to Nash quickly beating him. Callahan tallied his third point of the night on the play, leading all players. The Flyers were caught on a bad line-change on the goal.
Frustration would boil over for the Flyers late in the third period as Scott Hartnell would get a misconduct for getting involved with the Rangers bench. He appeared to punch Michael Haley on the Rangers bench after getting rubbed in the face from a Rangers player. The Flyers would apply some late pressure but couldn’t get a goal with Bryzgalov pulled. The Rangers won 4-2 as the Flyers will drop to 11-12-1 on the year. The team’s next game will be against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
- Simmonds now has goals in 3 straight games. He has 6 in his past 7 games and is tied for the team lead with Voracek. Simmonds put up a career high 28 goals last season and is proving that was not a fluke. Simmonds is a fixture on a first power-play unit that is red hot
- The Voracek terror continues as he notched another two points on Tuesday night. He now has 27 points in 24 games and is one of the top scorers overall in the NHL
- Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. It is being reported that he suffered a hip flexor. It is unknown how serious the injury is at the moment. The physical defenseman averages 18:34 of ice time per game with the Flyers blue line. Grossmann entered the game as the NHL’s leading shot blocker with 66 shots blocked
- The Flyers power-play has now scored eleven goals in the team’s last eight games and is red hot. Half of Voracek’s 10 goals have come on the man advantage where he plays on the first unit