Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
The Flyers skated with a talented Rangers team all night long and were able to emerge victorious, deafeating New York by the score of 3 to 2 in a shootout. In a game that saw great goaltending, a scary injury, and another wild 3 on 3 overtime, the Flyers put together their most complete performance of the season against a quality opponent.
The first period, especially the first 10 minutes, was some of the strongest play we’ve seen from Dave Hakstol’s Flyers so far this season. The Flyers won the neutral zone battles with relative ease and spent a large chunk of the period playing in the Rangers’ zone. These efforts were eventually rewarded when Mark Streit found twine with a shot from the blue line. The Rangers fought through the initial wave of Flyers pressure and the final 10 minutes of the period were much more evenly played. Roughly 13 minutes in, a Brayden Schenn offensive zone turnover led to a 3 on 2 the other way. JT Miller was able to separate himself from Brandon Manning and eventually knotted the game at 1.
The second period started with a beautiful wrist shot goal from Scott Laughton, then got scary pretty quickly. After a collision with a Ranger’s elbow as play was blown dead on a delayed penalty, Michael Raffl appeared to nearly collapse on the bench and was helped to the locker room shortly thereafter. Play stopped and did not resume for several minutes as the Flyers appeared to be very concerned. It was announced later that Raffl would not return with an upper body injury. To make matters worse, the Rangers would knot things up on the ensuing power play after Derick Brassard’s slapshot was tipped in. The remainder of the period was evenly played but did not lack excitement, as a disallowed Rangers goal, a very borderline hit by Radko Gudas, and a hit crossbar from Claude Giroux all occurred before the horn sounded.
The third period was mostly much slower, as both teams seemed to tighten up in the neutral zone a bit. The Rangers had the better of things early on, but Steve Mason was up to the task and made some impressive saves.
After an absolutely wild 3 on 3 overtime, the Flyers were able to win the skills competition after both Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux got Henrik Lundqvist to bite. While both goals were very impressive, Giroux’s was particularly beautiful.
It’s great to see the Flyers emerge with two points here, but to be honest it was much better to see them hanging with the Rangers and taking play to their end of the ice at times. The Flyers have skated pretty evenly with every quality team they’ve faced so far, and that is a great, great sign.
Some more observations:
-Radko Gudas could easily be getting a phone call from Player Safety after this hit, which was not penalized on the ice. Definitely pretty borderline. His shoulder came up fairly high and appeared to make at least some contact with Stalberg’s head. Stalberg did not return to the game. My gut says he escapes suspension, but who knows.
-The injury to Michael Raffl was scary as hell. I couldn’t help but immediately start thinking about the Rich Peverley situation as the situation began to unfold. The Flyers only announced that Raffl would not return with an upper body injury, but let’s hope, for both health and hockey related reasons, that it is not as serious as it initially seemed.
-The Flyers came up 0 for 2 on the power play tonight again, but I’m not sure there’s any real reason to be concerned there. They’ve created chances consistently and have been fairly snakebitten so far with the man advantage. If they weren’t creating chances, I’d be more concerned, but I think it’s only a matter of time before the goals start to come.
-Evgeny Medvedev does so many little things so well. His defensive play was impressive tonight, especially down the stretch in the 3rd period. He reads plays brilliantly and disrupted several potentially dangerous Ranger chances tonight.
-It was nice to see Steve Mason have a really great game tonight. He was a bit shaky on at least one of the goals against Boston, but he kept the Flyers in the game at times tonight. It was fitting that he was able to come up with the last shootout save to get the Flyers the extra point.
-That Claude Giroux shootout move was disturbingly good. That is all. Goodnight.