The New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 at Wells Fargo Center. For a box score, click here.
In the 2016-17 season, the Rangers are 7-0-0 in the second half of back-to-backs. That is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as what the Blue Jackets are doing right now.
Before the game, I saw some on twitter question why Henrik Lundqvist was starting back-to-back games. I’m guessing they got their answer by watching the game as the Rangers starter was sensational. It started early as he stopped Simmonds on a shorthanded break and continued until the final buzzer. Was I surprised with his performance? Not at all. We’ll ignore the fact he’s still one of the top goalies in the league. Mix his numbers against the Flyers with his frustration at how last night went and the only thing I’m surprised about is that he didn’t end up with the shutout.
That said, it was nice of the skaters in front of him to finally give him some goal support in the third period. Lunqdvist is good but he shouldn’t have to be perfect to guarantee a victory. Fortunately tonight he didn’t have to be. Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner each had two goals while the defense, minus Marc Staal who was out with a mysterious upper body injury, were able to hold their own against the Flyers goal scorers.
The scoring started early in the second when Hayes came down on a 2-on-1 and fooled Mason for his first goal in 13 games. Five minutes into the third period Chris Kreider finished a beautiful play for his then team leading 16th goal of the season. Mats Zuccarello lobbed the puck into the neutral zone to lead Stepan up the ice. He found Kreider who fooled the Flyers defense and Mason with a low shot to double the score. To be honest, I have no idea how this goal was on side but the Flyers didn’t challenge it so I guess it somehow was.
Six minutes later, Grabner got his first of the night and NBC basically said the game was over. Most Rangers fans know better. With 7:15 remaining, Stepan took a neutral zone penalty allowing the Flyers to get on the board. But Hayes answered back less than two minutes later and then the game finally felt winnable. For some reason the Flyers did challenge this goal. I have no idea why other than they were hoping for a miracle or wanted to get rid of their timeout without taking it.
Both teams would add a goal in the final three minutes, including Grabner tying Kreider with his 16th of season, and the Rangers left Philadelphia with their fifth consecutive victory. Honestly, this almost felt like a Rangers-Flyers game from five years ago minus the rough stuff that usually came out of those games.
Was it their best game of the season? No. Compared to last night was it an acceptable performance? Absolutely. You could tell as the game went on that the legs weren’t there but they were determined to bounce back from whatever that was against the Sabres and succeeded. It won’t be a memorable one but two points are two points. And with the ridiculousness of the metro division, no one can complain with two regulation points against another divisional opponent.
Speaking of which, the Rangers stay in the metro with a trip to Columbus on Saturday. Yes Columbus. The Blue Jackets, who as of this writing are on a 16-game win streak. No I have no idea what is in the water in Columbus but I hope the Rangers can steal some of it on their trip there.
(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)