The third game of the preseason was a doozy. With the Flyers going with mostly starters, the young Blueshirts were no match. They easily could’ve lost by eight or nine goals if not for a strong showing from Igor Shesterkin. He was tested often throughout in a 4-1 road defeat in Philly.
There wasn’t much good out of this one. At least there were no casualties. After a brief get together between Micheal Haley and Chris Stewart, who are both on pro tryouts, things settled down. It didn’t start out that badly for the Rangers, but by the end of the second period, Shesterkin was under siege. The Russian stopped 19 of 20 shots in a messy middle stanza that included several odd man rushes. His best save came on a three on none when he slid across to shut the door on a excellent Flyers chance.
Overall, the Flyers outshot the Blueshirts 40-19. Shesterkin finished with 36 saves in his first full start. It was baptism by fire for the top goalie prospect. He definitely passed with flying colors. The first couple of Flyer goals were deflections from James van Riemsdyk (off Jacob Trouba’s skate) and old friend Kevin Hayes. He also hit a goalpost and was dangerous shorthanded like we saw on Broadway.
Philadelphia seemed to be on a power play the whole second half. The Rangers couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. Considering the large disparity in rosters, that was expected. Especially how much the Flyers dominated territorially. It was a shooting gallery on poor Igor. To his credit, he gave it his all and did well. Blueshirt fans should be excited about the future in net.
There really wasn’t much to say. Outside of a few select players, it wasn’t much to write home about. On that list is Adam Fox, who again distinguished himself with smooth skating and smart puck management. He definitely looks as advertised.
Ryan Lindgren played for a second straight night. He again brought that physical edge that the revamped defense will need. He definitely can play his position well. He reads and reacts to the play. He will finish checks, mix it up post scrum and block shots for the good of the team. If he doesn’t start in the top six, you’re likely looking at the seventh defenseman, who should be given a fair chance by the coaching staff along with favorite Libor Hajek. Hajek has more skating ability. Neither have looked out of place.
Vitali Kravtsov was around the puck in the offensive zone. The KHL import had a strong shift behind the Flyers net to work the puck to Filip Chytil, who eventually got it back to the point for a hard low Trouba shot that Carter Hart stopped. I liked Kravtsov’s simplicity. On one rare offensive sequence, he wisely threw a tricky shot on goal through traffic that caromed out to Chytil, who was denied in tight by Hart. Kravtsov seems to put himself in the right spot. He might not make the Opening Night roster, but it shouldn’t be long before he’s a Blueshirt for good.
The top line centered by Chytil with Chris Kreider and Kravtsov didn’t generate enough. Particularly Chytil, who for a second game in a row, didn’t look as effective as Brett Howden was in preseason game one when he centered Russian combo Pavel Buchnevich and Vladislav Namestnikov. All three didn’t play. Neither did Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko or Artemi Panarin, who they’re hoping to get back into a couple of preseason games if he recovers from a mild groin strain.
Matthew Robertson made his first appearance on the back end. Wearing number 97, the 18-year old left skating defenseman that the Rangers grabbed in the second round, showed off why. Sure. There were a couple of hiccups with the kid falling on his first shift, and later getting caught in the neutral zone on the third Flyers goal put in by Carsen Twarynski. But he was put in a tough spot without any support.
Jakub Voracek scored another Flyers power play goal in the third off a nice set up. That followed a good block by a diving Lindgren. The Ranger penalty killers were unable to recover the puck.
Philadelphia created so many glorious chances that they hit a few goalposts. That’s when Shesterkin wasn’t stoning them with some very athletic saves.
Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Hayes, Voracek, van Riemsdyk, Oskar Lindblom, Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Matt Niskanen and Robert Hagg all played for new Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, who looked comfortable taking in the action from above. Hart split duty with J.F. Berube.
Compared to the Rangers lineup that also were without Jesper Fast, Brendan Lemieux, Marc Staal and Tony DeAngelo, it wasn’t a contest. I don’t think Henrik Lundqvist or Alexandar Georgiev could’ve done any better than Shesterkin. Adam Huska backed up after only allowing one goal in relief of Henrik on Friday night.
Lias Andersson stood out due to being active during shifts both defensively and on the forecheck when it presented itself. He’s definitely more of a two-way center than Chytil, who still needs work there after getting outmuscled by Hayes on the Flyers second goal. I’ll be curious to see how coach David Quinn uses Andersson and Howden due to both having stronger camps.
Trouba and Brady Skjei paired up for the second time. They were better than the first game. Trouba showed some edge by going at it with a Flyer post whistle due to a penalty against a teammate. He has that in his game. It’ll be needed.
The Rangers now get two days off before hosting the Islanders on Tuesday. I’ll be there with the family. That should be interesting.
That’s all folks. Until next time.