After a 10 day hiatus from Rangers hockey in which King Henrik dominated the All-Star game in San Jose and the rest of the squad caught some sun, the Blueshirts played one of their best games of the season… in a loss. New York outplayed their Metropolitan division rivals severely for the latter fifty minutes of the bout. David Quinn’s team had double the amount of shots, scoring chances and takeaways than Philly. The Flyers won this game for one reason only; netminder Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz, one of seven goalies to start for Philadelphia this year posted his first career shutout making 38 saves. If not for Stolarz, the score easily could have been 5 if not 7-1. After the frustrating defeat, star center Mika ZIbanejad said, “We’re obviously not happy with the result, but I think we can keep building off of this,” Prior to the start of the game, one of the most intriguing and possible questionable decisions of the season so far was implemented by the Rangers’ coaching staff. David Quinn sidelined Pavel Buchnevich and decided to play only 11 forwards. It would come back to bite them as halfway through the game, center Brett Howden exited the game with a sprained shoulder. The rookie is expected to be out only a couple of games.
The first frame couldn’t have started off worse for the Blueshirts as Flyers forward took advantage of sloppy defensive play by the Rangers and backhanded a shot upstairs past Alexander Georgiev. The Ranger’s blue line looked life traffic cones on the George Washington Bridge for 10 straight minutes until they finally started to skate fast and pressure Stolarz. The best chance of the period came from Jesper Fast who pounced on a rebound and had a gaping net in front of him but sent the shot wide of the post. As the Rangers put forth an attack and the crowd got into the game, an extra burst of excitement arrived when Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon brought out his inner Mick Jagger impression with a wild flare at the end of the period.
Down 1-0 entering the middle frame, the Rangers came out blazing, seeming to take advantage of the fatigued Flyers players as Philly was in action the night before. The man of the hour for the whole twenty minutes was Chris Kreider. Kreider leads the team in goals with 22 and easily should’ve extended that up to 25 in the 2nd period alone. Initially, he had an incredible chance on a redirection but Stolarz kept his position on the post to make a miraculous stop. Shortly after, on Kreider’s next shift, he received a one time pass in the high slot but the Flyers netminder extended his pad to leave Kreider looking skyward. The Rangers forward would strike out on his third attempt to score but he nailed a shot off the post. The Blueshirts would end up outshooting Philly 12-3.
In the final period, the Rangers dominated yet again but they were unable to find the back of the net. Although they took 13 of the 17 shots, the boy’s in blue struggled to develop any high-quality scoring chances because the Flyers transitioned to 4 men in the neutral zone system which stalled most serious attacks. Despite decimating the Flyers in most aspects, the score is the only thing that matters in the end.
The Rangers will look to bounce back Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils and the Flyers will look to win six games in a row on Friday night.