There was a preseason game played between the Rangers and Flyers in Philadelphia. It was the Rangers’ fourth exhibition. They lost in overtime 4-3 with Jakub Voracek getting the winner by abusing Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan. Let’s just say it looked like McDonagh and Stepan were imitating their hideous defensive play for Team USA. I’ll just leave it at that.
Considering that they trailed 3-0, the mix of NHL players and AHLers showed something rallying from three down to tie it up. I didn’t watch the whole thing due to the insanity of actually paying attention to what’s been a listless performance by the Giants at the Vikings on ESPN Monday Night Football.
On the Ranger end, goals were scored by Ryan Graves, Brandon Pirri and Jimmy Vesey. The important aspect is some of the key new players showed positives again. Following Miller’s high-sticking minor that allowed the Flyers to score on both ends of a 5-on-3 power play, Miller made a great play to set up the Rangers’ first goal.
Taking an outlet from Robin Kovacs, Miller cruised through the neutral zone and down the right wind before pulling up to find a wide open Graves in the slot. He made a good pinch and then fired a nice wrist shot by Philadelphia starter Steve Mason cutting it to 3-1 late in the second period. The goal awakened the Blueshirts, who then responded with Rick Nash drawing a holding penalty. But the power play was unable to cash in despite some looks.
Pirri continued his great preseason by scoring unassisted on a nice snapshot past Mason early in the third that made it a one-goal contest. He now leads the Rangers with four goals and two helpers. The ex-Panther who also played with the Ducks continues to look like a lock for the Opening Night roster. If he is in the starting lineup and there’s no reason for him not to be, he will either be cast in the top nine or on the fourth line while probably getting power play time.
Even better, Vesey scored his first goal in exhibition from Stepan on a successful power play. He had a scare earlier on when Flyers’ goon Radko Gudas decided to go for a big hit leading to a boarding call that immediately drew the ire of Dylan McIlrath. He was assessed a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct along with a fight major. How they even called it a fight major I have no clue. McIlrath came from the other end and jumped on top of Gudas, who bloodied Vesey’s nose on a hit into the boards.
Let’s be honest. Gudas is a dirty player who also was suspended three games last year. However, as much as our fans crowed about it on Twitter, Vesey did turn and the hit wasn’t that bad. I don’t see the NHL suspending him. But Gudas does have a history of such dangerous hits. The views were mostly negative with many in the media wanting him to pay the price. I agree the league needs to send a strong message. I just don’t believe the hit was that bad that it deserves much discipline.
As for the first part, it was mostly Flyers due to the two-man advantage. Henrik Lundqvist was sharp in his first appearance. He stopped all 15 shots in a busy first and only gave up a goal to Jordan Weal on an extended Flyer shift before giving way to backup Mackenzie Skapski. The coverage was pretty bad on the first goal with Maxim Lapierre victimized. Of course, scapegoat Tanner Glass was blamed but it was really Lapierre’s lack of speed which caused a delayed penalty and him not taking the man that led to the goal. My guess is he’ll be let go following Tuesday’s game against the Islanders.
Unfortunately, Skapski had the misfortune of coming in when the Rangers lost their discipline. It resulted in consecutive Flyer tallies. The first from Voracek which he thought he had but it trickled through. The second was Travis Konecny scoring from in front making it 3-0.
Afterwards, Skapski straightened out keeping his team in the game. He did allow Voracek’s winner but that was a direct result of some lousy defense by McDonagh and Stepan. Two vets who should know better. That it came off the opening draw in overtime was sad. A nice power move and finish by Voracek on the backhand.
Bright spots were Adam Clendening who again didn’t look out of place. He really needs to make the team. His work on the power play has been superb. He definitely is a good enough skater and gives the coaching staff a nice option as another righty shot with offensive capability. The issue is if he and McIlrath are in, then that means Brady Skjei isn’t. He can be sent back.
Dan Girardi remains. Who knows what’ll happen there. Anyway, that’s the end of this review. Until tomorrow.