In their fifth of six games in the preseason, the Rangers defeated the Flyers 3-2 in overtime. Keith Yandle beat Steve Mason on a penalty shot giving the Blueshirts a nice comeback win. He was taken down from behind leading to an easy call at center ice. Yandle calmly skated in and beat Mason stick side for the winner and then received congrats from happy teammates off the bench.
Even though it’s preseason, it’s still nice to see a character building win. The Rangers rallied back from a two-goal deficit. They played a strong first period outshooting the Flyers 16-5 and out-attempting them by double. But trailed on the scoreboard. Flyer defenseman Mark Streit beat Anti Raanta thru a Michael Raffl screen. Raanta never picked it up.
Despite getting largely outplayed, they led after one. The Flyers were sharper in the second. Benefiting from some undisciplined Ranger penalties, they got more shots and chances on Raanta, who had a good night stopping 27 of 29. He couldn’t do much with Wayne Simmonds, who got to a loose puck in front and converted a power play goal.
The Rangers trailed by two goals entering the third. But with Raanta making key stops, they came back thanks to offensive dynamo Dan Girardi and Chris Kreider. Girardi made a good pinch and buried a rebound of a Ryan McDonagh shot. Before Kreider did his usual heroics with 67 seconds left in regulation, he went after a Flyer following a questionable hit from Radko Gudas on Derek Stepan. Gudas caught Stepan in the neutral zone leading to Kreider retaliating by boarding R.J. Umberger. That quickly drew Simmonds who exchanged pleasantries with Kreider. The Rangers got a power play out of it but couldn’t beat Mason (41 saves).
It took for Raanta to be pulled for an extra attacker before they tied it. It was a Stepan faceoff win which led to Kreider’s tying marker. On it, Rick Nash and Stepan combined to feed Kreider at the doorstep. He did the rest.
As far as observations, here are a couple:
-Kreider looks to be in full beast mode. He is flying, scoring and hitting while sticking up for teammates. A lot to like.
-AV tried Nash with Stepan and Kreider while using J.T. Miller exclusively with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello. Both lines looked good with Miller and Zuccarello playing well off each other.
–Emerson Etem was lined up with Dominic Moore at center with Jarret Stoll on the right side. He was visible early but kinda disappeared. Etem saw some PK shifts. Not much else positive.
–Kevin Hayes again looked lost. He hasn’t had a good camp. He played around with the puck too much and had a couple of giveaways leading to Flyers chances. Viktor Stalberg and Jesper Fast played with him. That looks like the third line to start the season.
–Dylan McIlrath had another strong showing. He continues to show poise with the puck in his end while making good reads at the right time. Big Mac finally seems ready. He’s been a lot better than some of the vets ahead of him.
-Not a good night for Marc Staal but that’s not the focal point. Dan Boyle was hideous. He took two penalties and had a couple of gaffes. Boyle did have five shots mostly due to the power play. He is scary defensively. I’m not sure I’d play him every game. Especially if McIlrath makes it and AV decides to keep eight D with Raphael Diaz. They can rotate if needed. Kevin Klein got the night off. He hasn’t looked sharp either.
-Outside of a couple of shaky rebounds, Raanta was strong which is a real positive to take away. He made some nice stops and gave his team a chance.
-On the other side, I really was impressed with Mason. He looked great. Considering that he doesn’t have the best team defense, if he can perform well the Flyers could surprise. They have a nice crop of forwards (Giroux, Simmonds, Voracek, B. Schenn, Couturier, Read, Raffl). The blue line is basically Streit and Del Zotto which doesn’t inspire much confidence. But they should be competitive under new coach Dave Hakstol.