It’s all about recovery.
After a Game 1 loss that bordered on embarrassment, the Flyers looked to rebound and tie their first round series against the host New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
Making sure this time that they didn’t allow Ray Emery to get ragdolled (too much) while he fills in for injured starting goaltender Steve Mason, the Flyers bounced back from two goals down to double up the score and emerge victorious. It wasn’t without a bit of struggle, of course, but that’s what the Flyers must be accustomed to at this point. Things definitely didn’t start off as planned once again when the Flyers surrendered the early lead to the Rangers on a Martin St. Louis shot that found Emery unable to fall back and cover after some excellent East-West passing by New York a mere five minutes into the game. The immediate emotion was that of dread, a sort of “Oh boy, here we go again” moment, and five minutes after that? another New York score, this time by Benoit Pouliot, and just like that, Rangers 2, Flyers 0, with 50 minutes to play.
Down by two and faced with the mystique that a current 9 game losing streak at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, the Flyers would have to resolve themselves to playing – you guessed it- a full 60 minutes. They had another 50 remaining to make an impact, and that is precisely what they did.
It would begin by forcing Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist sweat a little, and put the pressure on the Rangers, something which Jakub Voracek would oblige a few minutes after the 2-0 deficit by taking a nifty Scott Hartnell pass and jamming it by Lundqvist to bring the Flyers within one. That would be the final score of the first period, and it had to give the team a glimmer of hope because they came out guns blazing in the second.
Utilizing the steam they had built up on breaking the wall in front of New York’s net, the Flyers had stolen the momentum and were now playing hard, quick, and steadily pushing forward, all things that led to the Rangers suddenly uncharacteristic displays of undisciplined hockey. Going on the power play four minutes in, young forward Jason Akeson, who some wished to blame for the Game 1 loss but shouldn’t have, redeemed himself with a little told you so greasy goal scoring to tie things up. From there the chippiness amped up, but it was the Rangers being suckered in and forgetting to play their game, and half way through the period, the Flyers would take the lead on a heads up rebound goal thanks to Luke Schenn, a defenseman rarely known for his offensive prowess. After collecting a turnover, Michael Raffl would lead the puck in and with Adam Hall shooting at a tough angle, Lundqvist made a play only to see the puck careen off of him to the stick of Schenn, who stepped up into the play, collected the puck, and neatly wristed it home.
The craziest part of this period was the fact that the Flyers were outshot by an astonishing 17-9, yet emerged from it with a 2 goals to none advantage. This was due in part to Philly never quitting, playing the full period, and despite the myriad of shots faced, only allowing the Rangers to take bad ones for the most part. Quality over quantity is key, after all.
The third period would be a hard back and forth, with both clubs refusing no forward ground to the other. There was a combined 16 shots taken, and even with the lead, it was a tense experience watching the club clinging to the lone goal lead, but it could’ve been worse. There was a comfort watching a club stay focused and never really let the Rangers develop any serious kind of threat for an entire quarter.
The best gaffe was reserved for the end when the Rangers attempted to pull Hank with 2 minutes to play and somehow botching that, the result of which was a game killing too many men penalty for New York. Seeing Hank furiously tap his stick as he was halfway to the bench to notify them to not send out another player for the pull just yet was poetic. After all the frustrations of the penalty issues the Flyers had in Game 1, it seemed fair for New York to take a dose of this medicine for the second affair.
Wayne Simmonds would go on to toss in the game sealing empty netter, and in one game the Flyers nullified a 1 game to none series lead and ended the 9 game losing streak with one stone. It was a feel good game, and restored the notion that Philly is the better club, something the team should focus on as they build momentum. Emery stole a game for the team in this series, and really could use Mason back in net, and given how close he was to being in Game 2 before precautionary issues, that should be the reality when these two play again in Philly for Game 3.
Giroux said it best post game when he said the team had committed to a full 60 minute mentality and that the chemistry was there. They need to retain it and play relaxed, the rest should and will come to them if they do.