The Philadelphia Flyers went into Madison Square Garden last night with the goal of getting two points on the road. They left empty handed. After 4-2 loss to division rival New York Rangers, the Flyers (11-12-1, 23 points) again find themselves in a weak position in the standings, ninth in the conference in points with games in hand on every other team. This was a bad start to a week of games against division foes New York and Pittsburgh and a weekend of games against Boston and Buffalo.
The game started like most have this season, with the Flyers getting outplayed early and trying to weather a storm from the opposing team. The Rangers (11-8-2, 24 points) got an early power play from a Kimmo Timonen holding penalty and Ryan Callahan was able to score on a Derek Stepan pass that went under Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann.
The Flyers got a power play of their own off of a Stu Bickel elbowing penalty, and were able to convert that into a tying goal with a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence from Jakub Voracek to Claude Giroux and finally to Wayne Simmonds in front of the net. For Simmonds, it was his tenth goal of the year and tied the game at 1-1.
The Flyers were able to grab the lead at the end of the first, again on the power play, when Simmonds hit Voracek in front of the net, allowing Jake to get a shot and then burying his own rebound to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead with just under three minutes left in the first.
With less than a minute to go in the first, Brayden Schenn turned the puck over on a pass out of the Flyers zone and Ryan McDonagh hit Callahan who beat Luke Schenn and then goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in front to tie the game at 2-2.
The second period was frustrating for the Flyers, as they had problems getting anything set up in the offensive zone. Both teams played more disciplined hockey and the scoring chances were not there as they seemed to be in the first.
The Flyers went into the third period tied and they were 0-3 when tied after two periods on the season going into last night’s game. Just under three minutes into the final period, Rick Nash beat Ilya Bryzgalov on a shot that could have and probably should have been stopped. There was no deflection or traffic in front of Bryz who got beat over his stick hand and gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
Just over five minutes into the third, Ranger defenseman Marc Staal took a puck to the face on a deflection of a Timonen shot from the point. Staal never had a chance to avoid getting hit and the puck looked to hit dangerously close to his right eye. It was a quiet and horrifying few moments for fans and players as the Ranger staff helped Staal off the ice.
The Rangers put the game away for good on another Rick Nash tally, this one as he was being hooked by Timonen. This was another goal where Bryzgalov just looked silly. The Rangers took a 4-2 with less than nine minutes to play and that is hard to overcome on the road against a team like the Rangers.
The Flyers have not played well at the Garden as of late but still needed to grind out at least a point on the road. Losing Grossman after the first period to a groin injury certainly didn’t help the team and there were several times in last night’s game where Timonen looked at least a step behind.
The Simmonds and Voracek show continued to impress last night but these two players alone cannot carry this team. Outside of the power play, which went two for three on the night, the Flyers didn’t get a lot of good scoring opportunities in the first two periods. The penalty kill held the rangers to one goal on four chances and that was Callahan’s goal just over a minute into the game.
The first two goals Bryzgalov didn’t have a chance to save and the last two made every Flyers fan realize how long nine years is and how long on goalie could make it feel. The early goal to Nash gave the Rangers a lead at home and momentum. Playing from behind on the Garden ice is not a position any team wants to be in and that’s exactly where the Flyers found themselves in a must win situation.
The Flyers will need to rebound and quick as they head back home to play the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. This team cannot continue to give away points. Halfway through the season there seem to be more questions than answers and the next half of the season could define the future of this organization for a long time to come.Tags: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kimmo Timonen, loss, New York Rangers, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Wayne Simmonds