Sometimes, you can just tell when your team doesn’t have it. That was evident early in a disappointing Rangers’ 4-0 shutout loss to the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center this afternoon. The Thanksgiving Showdown was a dud for David Quinn’s club, who were completely out of sync on Black Friday.
It was one of those games. How bad was it? The Flyers played a straight forward game and made Travis Konecny’s first period goal that banked in off Brady Skjei stand up. They outshot the Rangers 15-8 and out-attempted them 28-10 in a lopsided first period.
The amazing thing is how long Henrik Lundqvist kept his team in it. That’s how well the Flyers played. To quote my brother following the dismal first, “It looked like they were skating in quicksand.”
There are going to be days like this. Credit the Flyers for showing urgency with their coach Dave Hakstol getting too much blame. They easily could’ve had four or five goals in the first two periods. But a very sharp Lundqvist wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t until the bitter end when the Flyers got three goals within a 3:44 span to put a stamp on a convincing win. They deserved it.
Just listening to Quinn speak to NBC rover Pierre McGuire during the second, he was all over what was wrong. He emphasized how they weren’t making good decisions with the puck. They were sloppy throughout and turned too many pucks over. The Flyers had quite a few great chances on two-on-one’s they worked to create. But they butchered most by refusing to shoot. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have took a Sean Couturier finish off a great passing play from Konecny and Claude Giroux, to put the game away.
Konecny played a excellent game. With Mark Howe in the building as Doc Emrick referenced, the third-year forward had a Gordie Howe hat trick. He stood up for a teammate who took a late hit from Ryan Strome that went undetected. The scrap was entertaining at least with bow lightweights exchanging good punches. Strome may not have contributed any offense, but he was one of the more noticeable Rangers. I liked that he accepted Konecny’s challenge and was accountable for his actions.
The problem was they’re were too many passengers. Mika Zibanejad had a bad game. Even with Quinn mixing up his combos on the other three lines, nothing seemed to spark the center, who’s clearly struggling without Pavel Buchnevich. Sure. He’s still leading the team in assists and putting up points. But there’s been something missing. They need more goal production from Zibanejad, who remains stuck on seven.
I don’t think keeping Jesper Fast on that line is helping. Mats Zuccarello also got a chance in his return. The effort was there from Zuccarello, whose hustle back resulted in him blocking a Flyers shot to deny a odd-man rush. Unfortunately, he didn’t create much offense. He also had a silly pass for a turnover that allowed the Flyers to get an empty netter from Jordan Weal with 2:02 left.
One Ranger who was going was rookie Lias Andersson. He saw more shifts in crunch time, and nearly tied it. Some great hustle from Jimmy Vesey kept the puck in. Steven Fogarty found Andersson alone in front. He was one-on-one with Calvin Pickard. But Pickard stayed with him by getting his pad across to deny Andersson in tight on a forehand deke, leaving him frustrated.
Frustrating is a good way to describe the game. To their credit, the Blueshirts played a better third. They finally created chances and tested Pickard. But he never had to face any rebounds. His defense did a nice job clearing the garbage.
The Rangers top line of Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and Filip Chytil were by far their best. However, they couldn’t get one by Pickard. Chytil was dangerous again with a nice rebound opportunity off a Kreider shot, which Pickard swallowed up. Chytil’s confidence is way up. He really has been visible and continues to make plays with the puck. There was one bad moment where he got out-muscled by James van Riemsdyk, forcing Lundqvist to make a pair of saves. But there’s a lot to like about Chytil’s game. So, his goal streak ended at five.
I thought Kevin Shattenkirk also had a good game. He was good defensively and jumped into the rush offensively to create chances. So too was Tony DeAngelo, who’s open right point shot hit the post. Unfortunately, the Flyers scored right after.
How bad was the shot discrepancy? The Flyers had 46 shots including Couturier’s second from Konecny and Giroux that made it 4-0 with 1:37 remaining. By then, I wasn’t paying attention. I was getting ready to leave to have another turkey dinner at my Mom’s.
The Flyers outshot the Rangers 46-31 and out-attempted them by a ridiculous 77-49 margin. They also dominated on face-offs going 37-and-26. They were the better team.
For the Rangers, who fell to 12-9-2, there’s no time for the weary. They visit the Capitals tomorrow afternoon at 2 PM. Considering how well Lundqvist played making 42 saves, does he get a second straight game? I’m inclined to think so.
We shall see. As far as today’s game, burn the DVD. Move on to Washington next.