Flyers- 0- Rangers- 2- Post-Game Recap

November 20th, 2014 by Kyle Lutz | Filed under Flyers, Hockey.

Rick Nash celebrating a second-period goal (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

SHOTS BY PERIOD

PERIOD PHI NYR
1st 9 13
2nd 9 14
3rd 13 7
Total 31 34
TEAM STATS
CATEGORY PHI NYR
Power Plays 0/4 1/4
Hits 21 22
Faceoff Wins 33 34
Giveaways 13 4
Takeaways 3 9
Blocked Shots 8 6
Penalty Minutes 8 8

Three Stars

01. Cam Talbot- G- NYR- 31/31 S/SA
02. Rick Nash- LW- NYR- 1 G/1 P, 3 SOG, 2 hits
03. Steve Mason- G- PHI- 32/34 S/SA

Officials

Referees: Brian Pochmara, Francois St. Laurent
Linesmen: Scott Cherrey, Shandor Alphonso

Scratches

Philadelphia- Jason Akeson (healthy), Michael Raffl (IR; foot)Luke Schenn (shoulder), Andrew MacDonald (IR; knee)
New York- Lee Stempniak (back)

After coming off of a tough 2-0 shut-out loss to the rival New York Rangers on Wednesday night, the Flyers are right back at it tonight at home vs. the Minnesota Wild.

The Flyers were vastly outplayed on Wednesday by New York, as they not only failed to light the lamp at all, but they were beaten in several other categories, statistically speaking. New York, albeit not by much, out-shot the Flyers 34-31 in the game, including 27-18 through two periods of play. The Flyers’ forechecking improved, however, during the final period of play, mostly during the latter minutes, in which they — at one point in time — had a five-on-three advantage. Flyers’ head-coach Craig Berube elected to pull starting goaltender Steve Mason early, while still down by two goals and with time running out in the game, with 3:22 left in the third. After pulling Mason, 2:37 minutes later, the Flyers went on the man advantage, albeit a brief one, with 45-seconds remaining.

Steve Mason was the best Flyers’ player by far on the night, not only playing excellent overall but standing on his head constantly; stopping 32/34 Rangers’ shots. Despite breakdowns defensively, Mason continued to stop tough shot after tough shot in the game, some of which required sprawling, tough saves at bad angles, and numerous saves with a man down. Both teams had four power-play advantages, with the Flyers going 0/4 and the Rangers going 1/4; with left-winger Rick Nash scoring the lone goal over seven-minutes into the second.

“Mase stood on his head for 60 minutes and played awesome for us, and unfortunately we didn’t support him,” right wing Wayne Simmonds said. “We didn’t play a tough brand of hockey. We didn’t do the things we were supposed to do. We were turning pucks over in the neutral zone.”

The Flyers, especially defenseman Braydon Coburn, were terrible in their own zone, and in the neutral zone as well, with missed coverage, multiple turnovers and lost corner puck battles. 13 Flyers’ turnovers isn’t going to cut it. Even if you trim that number in half, that’s still way too high of a number and still a couple more than the Rangers had. To make matters worst, out of the 13 total Flyers’ giveaways, nine of them occurred in their own zone. Coburn, overall, was a -2, with a penalty and two giveaways; both of which were defensive-zone turnovers.

Bad positioning and being inferior as far as speed’s concerned, led to Coburn being beaten to the right of Mason by Rick Nash, who slammed it home for a 2-0 Rangers’ lead, which proved to be the final goal of the night. Also worth mentioning, Coburn, late in the second period, ran over Mason behind the net, with a hit to the head, as the latter was playing the puck at the same time that the former was retrieving it. Despite the hit, Mason seemed to be alright afterwards and stayed in net for the remainder of the game (not including when the Flyers pulled him in the third for an extra attacker).

“I got completely knocked in the head there and it completely knocked me right down,” Mason said. “I never even saw him coming.”

However, despite Mason staying in the game, after a collision with Dan Girardi in the third period, Flyers’ blue-liner Michael Del Zotto suffered a lower-body injury that’ll potentially sideline him for tonight’s game. He’s listed as questionable. I’m sure for Del Zotto, that’s not the return to New York he anticipated/wanted, coming in. He was a member of the Rangers for five seasons, from 2009-2013.

Rangers’ defenseman Kevin Klein had a solid night, with a goal, a +1 rating, three shots and two hits, although he turned the puck over twice, in just under 18 minutes of ice time. Nash was solid as well, on top of his goal, he had three shots on goal, two hits and one blocked shot/takeaway, in just over 17 minutes. Another key to the Rangers’ defensive, and overall, success on Wednesday was their defensive-zone face-off efficiency, as they won 20 out of those 32 face-offs, and thus preventing the Flyers from taking advantage of offensive-zone face-off wins. Overall, it was a solid, team effort by New York, meanwhile, the same can’t be said for the Flyers, in all facets.

Despite the win, New York came into the game still without their top defenseman, in Ryan McDonagh (shoulder). Although he missed the game, McDonagh skated before the team’s Tuesday practice; the first time he had been back on the ice since suffering the injury over two-and-a-half weeks ago, on November 1st. Rangers’ head-coach Alain Vigneault said that McDonagh was still, roughly, two-weeks away from a, overall, four-week recovery period from his injury, thus he’ll miss at least a few-more games spanning — what could be — the next couple of weeks for the Blue Shirts.

To add insult to injury (pun intended), fellow Rangers’ defenseman Dan Boyle is still not 100% healthy, despite playing — and logging over 19 minutes of ice time — in Wednesday-night’s game. Boyle has played in the team’s last-three games after missing a month, due to a broken hand.

For the Flyers, team captain and first-line center, Claude Giroux was a game-time decision, in a see-saw report all-day long from multiple NHL reporters ruling that he would or wouldn’t play, since it was indefinite. Giroux ultimately decided to play, after skating in pre-game warm-ups with the team. Prior to playing, he was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Per the report, he not only was expected to miss last night’s game, but tonight’s game as well vs. Minnesota, which, I assume, he’ll play in. With the potential of Giroux being out for at least a couple games, the Flyers had recalled Phantoms’ forward Scott Laughton a day prior, to replace Giroux in the lineup. However, even though Giroux did play, Laughton did remain in the lineup, replacing Jason Akeson and centering Zac Rinaldo and Chris VandeVelde on the fourth line. Center Blair Jones was sent back down to the Phantoms, the same night, as a swap for Akeson.

Giroux played solid, despite not being 100% healthy. Surprisingly, he played in almost 26 minutes of game action, ranking second on the team in total ice time (25:45), behind only defenseman Mark Streit, who logged 26:47. In addition to logging a ton of minutes, Giroux had four shots, a giveaway, almost six minutes of power-play time, and he won 50% of his total face-offs (19/38), including 7/10 neutral-zone face-offs. Laughton, meanwhile, in his season debut, had two penalty minutes, a hit and a give-away a piece, and a face-off winning percentage of 40, in (exactly) seven minutes of ice time. Laughton played in his first NHL game in 22 months, since January of 2013 at Florida.

For whatever reason, Craig Berube did some line shuffling on Wednesday night. Center Brayden Schenn supported Giroux and Jake Voracek on the top line, at left-wing. Fellow center Sean Couturier was promoted from being the checking, third-line center to centering the Flyers’ second line, with previous-fellow linemate Matt Read, and Wayne Simmonds, the latter of which was previously on the top line. Furthermore, center Vincent Lecavalier was a fish out of water, as he was moved to being the right-winger on the team’s checking line. Not only is Lecavalier not a right winger, but he isn’t suitable for a checking-line role, as he’s never been a two-way forward, that of which is typical of a third-line player. R.J. Umberger, as well, moved from center to wing, on the same line as Lecavalier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

To me, in disagreement with what Berube decided to do, it wasn’t as if the Flyers needed a big, total line shakeup prior to last night’s game, as their offense performed adequately last Saturday night at Montreal. Against Montreal, they scored three goals — including two goals by Brayden Schenn — and out-shot Montreal, 29-28. They also were 1/5 on the man advantage, with six shots. All four of the Flyers’ lines seemed out of sync, because of it. Hopefully Berube changes back the lines, for continuity’s sake. The team will need all the help they can get vs. Minnesota tonight, as the Wild rank 8th best in the league in fewest-goals allowed/game, with 2.3. Philadelphia, however, ranks just 26th in the same category, with 3.1 goals allowed/game.

Back to last-night’s game, with the shutout win, Rangers’ backup goalie Cam Talbot, in relief of starter Henrik Lundqvist, earned his first win and shutout of the season. With the win, the Rangers earned their first win vs. the Flyers with a goalie other than King Henrik since October 11th, 2008. In that game, Rangers’ goalie Steven Valiquette won at Philadelphia, 4-3.

Next up

The Flyers (7-8-2) will head back home tonight (7:00 PM EST Ceremony Begins/7:45 puck drops, CSN Philly/97.5) to face the Wild (10-7), in what will be a special night for not only two-former Flyers but Flyers’ fans at the game and watching on TV. Prior to the game, the Flyers will induct two of the three former Legion of Doom line members, in — former Hart-Trophy winning — center Eric Lindros and winger John Leclair into the Flyers’ Hall of Fame. What makes it even more special for the two players is that, they’re being inducted together on the same night, as they spent so many years in Philadelphia together, side-by-side. Zac Rinaldo even wore the # 88 as a kid, in honor and awe of Lindros; his favorite childhood player.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Flyers have quite a bit of success all-time vs. Minnesota, as they’re 9-4-1, including 7-1-1 at the Wells Fargo Center. Last season, the two teams split the series, with each team winning their respective home game. Minnesota’s on a hot streak coming into Philadelphia tonight, having won three-straight affairs, after losing their previous four. In those three games, they’re averaging four goals/game and outscoring the opposition 12-7.

On the flip side, the Rangers’ll head out to Buffalo, to play the Sabres tomorrow night. Three out of their next four contests are road games, including a matinee rematch with the Flyers on Black Friday, on the 28th. They’ll also play the Flyers the following night, at MSG.

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