The Rangers came into last night’s game in a 7-2-1 stretch and needing a regulation win against the Flyers to leap-frog them in the standings and in the tiebreakers. They did just that, scoring three times in the first period and then holding off a third period surge by Philly for a 4-1 win. Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash played great games, something that has been a trend for the two superstars over the past 11 games.
In what is becoming the norm over the month of January, the Rangers played another complete game. The goaltending was sharp, the defense was solid, the offensive contributions came from all over, and the constant pressure was very evident throughout the game.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Flyers 0
Dom Moore and Dan Carcillo were in on the forecheck, causing Mark Streit to turn the puck over behind the net. Carcillo picked up the loose puck, and tucked it through Ray Emery, who couldn’t track the puck quick enough. Nicklass Grossmann also had a very lazy stick check on Carcillo during his wrap around attempt.
Rangers 2, Flyers 0
Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan were in on the forecheck (noticing a pattern?), and drew three Flyers behind the goal line. When Kreider collected the puck with room, Rick Nash cut from the half boards to the middle, losing his defender in the process (couldn’t tell who it was because the camera angle from NBC Sports was awful). Kreider hit Nash with the pass, and Nash had all day to bury it past Emery.
Rangers 3, Flyers 0
The Flyers were unable to clear the zone multiple times, with a Benoit Pouliot hit on Grossmann eventually jarring the puck loose and to the corner. Mats Zuccarello picked up the puck, and fed Derick Brassard –who found a hole in the Flyers’ defense– for an absolute howitzer that beat Emery.
Rangers 4, Flyers 0
Brad Richards forced a Flyer turnover at the blue line, and got the puck to Kreider at the hash marks for a mini 2-on-1 with Nash. Braydon Coburn was the one back, and although he took out the passing lane, he just watched Kreider come to a stop, stickhandle around Emery, and bank the shot off his skate and into the net. In Coburn’s defense, no forward came back to help, but he just stood there the entire time.
Flyers 1, Ranger 4
As a penalty to Zuccarello was expiring, the Flyers sent two guys (Tye McGinn, Brayden Schenn) to the front of the net. McGinn –who is very strong– outmuscled Stralman and forced him away from the slot, leaving Schenn wide open to screen Hank. Streit ripped a shot from the point that Hank didn’t see all the way, and it beat him. You can make an argument that Marc Staal could have covered the slot, which is a very valid argument. Even if he does, it’s still 2-on-1 in front.
The Rangers really dominated this game. We saw it on the ice, and the Fenwick chart shows how dominant they were. New York may have scored three goals in the first, but it wasn’t until the second that the ice really tilted in their favor. That blue line just kept climbing and climbing while the red line had multiple points of flat lining. The Flyers didn’t really start to chip away at the shot differential until the third period, when the Rangers sat back on their four goal lead.
As the streak stretches to 8-2-1 in their last eleven, 4-0-1 in their last five, and three wins in a row, the Rangers have made up significant ground in the Metropolitan Division. We spoke a lot about doing the right things, and wins coming. Aside from that stretch in December, the Rangers have been doing the right things. Puck luck balances out in the end. Save percentage was always going to spike once Hank figured out his new pads. Shooting percentage wasn’t going to continue to be 5%. All of these things are balancing out over this 11 game stretch.