Rangers continue dominance against Flyers with 4-2 win
It’s difficult not to acknowledge the Winter Classic these days.
With the annual event slowly creeping up on us, the collective mind of the hockey world is obsessed with the outdoor showdown that will be taking place in Philadelphia on January 2nd.
With all the networks gearing up their coverage, Friday night’s game between the Flyers and Rangers had a different tone than a game in late December typical has had in the past.
While all the major networks played up the fact that it was the final meeting prior to the Classic, many forgot to mention that the game was more than just a hype machine for the mega event a little over a week away.
This game also decided who would go into the holiday break with control of first place in the Atlantic Division.
In addition, the Rangers have beat up the Flyers as of late, out scoring the team, 9-0 in their last two games.
Following the first period, it appeared as though that streak was coming to an end.
Philadelphia dominated play in the first, swarming the offensive zone with consistent attacks that forced the Rangers on their heels for a large majority of the period. This was made evident by the fact that the Rangers didn’t register a shot on goal until the mid-way point of the period.
Through the first half of the period, New York played sloppy and lacked any kind of energy, which made the Flyers seem all the more able to take control of the game.
All that changed in the second.
The Rangers picked up their play by the end of the first and transitioned that momentum into the next period.
New York opened the scoring shortly after the mid-way mark when Derek Stepan masterfully deflected a shot from the side of the Flyers goal.
They added another goal five minutes later when former-Flyer, Ruslan Fedotenko snuck behind Braydon Coburn and Harry Zolnierczyk and deflected a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov. Both goals developed off point shots by Rangers blue-liner Stu Bickel.
Marion Gaborik officially put the game out-of-reach on a breakaway goal just two minutes into the final period.
Despite goals from Anderj Meszaros and James van Rimesdyk (his first in ten games) the damage had already been done.
There are times in sports where teams have a window of opportunity to take over a game. On Friday night, the first period was one of those times for the Flyers.
Despite the Rangers lack of interest and the Flyers domination, the team was unable to capitalize on early chances that could have changed the flow of the game.
As has been the case in the last three visits to the Garden, the Flyers have had a miserable time of trying to beat the Rangers defense and their first-class goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist.
Meszaros goal snapped a 193-minute shutout streak against the Flyers by Lundqvist.
Despite the two goals in the third, the Flyers were trapped on the perimeter of the defensive zone and couldn’t find a way to successfully penetrate the interior zones or gain position in the slot. Whether it was a New York defender in their face or an instance of hesitation, the Flyers offensive attackers failed to collect quality-scoring chances.
For those still interested in the Winter Classic story line, the Rangers have now beaten the Flyers in their last four meetings.
Classic or no Classic, the Rangers finally appear to be a legitimate threat in the Atlantic Division this year, one capable of shutting you down with defense or blowing you out with offense.
For the Flyers, the Classic is going to be more than an event; it’s going to be an instance where they need to fight back.