The Rangers recorded their fourth straight win by beating the Flyers by a score of 2-0. Last week's "player of the week", Henrik Lundqvist recorded his fourth shutout in 14 games this season and helped the Rangers improve to 7-6-1 on the season. The Rangers completed a six game homestand in which they went 5-1, the only loss coming at the hands of the Maple Leafs. Tommorow night, the Rangers head to the Island for a classic boxing...err...hockey game against the hated fishsticks.
Henrik Lundqvist was the man to talk about but since this is becoming a rather boring trend, I will let the big, fat ZERO on the Flyers scoresheet do the talking.
Offensively, the team looked great. They mustered a season high 45 shots on goal including 22 in the first period. Biron had some good stuff including a point-blank save on Paul Mara late in the third. Dont blame the Rangers for lack of scoring this game as they played their best game of the season, despite being stifled by the Flyers goalie.
The Rangers controlled the game for most of the first period, but did not break through until the 19 minute mark. Dan Girardi made a nice, behind-the-back pass to Jaromir Jagr who cut into the Flyers zone and down the left wing. He slowed in the left circle before firing a shot past Biron to put the Rangers on the board. It was a hard, accurate shot that could be labeled as vintage Jagr. It was his third goal of the season (this time for real).
The second period was more even with the Rangers having a slight edge but thanks to good defensive play from both sides and the strong playof Biron and Lundqvist, the period ended with the Rangers still up 1-0 and Philadelphia on a power play. The third opened with a strong penalty kill effort by the Rangers. However, the Flyers were determined to keep the offensive momentum going and did not allow the Rangers to get the puck deep until 9 minutes into the period.
Lundqvist made some nice saves during the only sustained Flyers pressure of the game. Most notably, after a slow, bouncing shot came through traffic in front and was blocked by Lundqvist, the rebound was found at the right post by a Flyers forward. Lundqvist's left pad flew to the post and blocked the stuff in try, prompting the Versus commentator to proclaim "MERCY!"
With less than four minutes remaining and the Flyers down a goal, the physical play picked up. R.J. Umberger took a run at Marc Staal behind the Rangers net but was knocked down as Staal evaded the check nicely. On the other end, Petr Prucha was plastered in the open ice on the way to the front of the net and the puck was pushed into the corner. Sean Avery worked the boards the way he does and came out with the puck, only to be repeatedly slashed and hooked by a frustated Daniel...im sorry...Danny Briere. The penalty was called, and Avery rewarded with pats on the back as he reached the bench.
The Rangers powerplay went to work. They executed three quick passes from Rozsival to Gomez to Jagr to Shanahan who used his quick-release one-timer to beat Biron stick side. Gomez pushed his point streak to 3 games. Jagr followed up by drawing a hooking penalty after which Briere completely lost it and was called for unsportsmanlike comduct. And after getting five shots during the 5 on 3, time expired and the Rangers jumped to 2nd place in the Atlantic and quickly approaching the first place Flyers.
This was probably the Rangers most complete game as they played well for all three periods on offense and defense. The score does not accurately represent how well the Rangers did play but credit Marty Biron and his 43 save effort for that.
I'd be amiss if I didnt mention the line combinations that seemed to have worked well the past two games and should be kept so they can really form chemistry. Jagr was centered by Dubinsky who can really gain from this experience and is a more grit, possesion player if less skilled than Drury or Gomez. On the wing was Marcel Hossa who's game and physical presense can fit well with Jagr. After all, Jagr really plays his own game and needs his linemates to stay out of the way, not help. Gomez centered Avery and Prucha, a line with speed, grit and skill. Drury played with Shanahan and Dawes who play a slower pace but have the best scoring ability of the three lines. They seemed to work well and really make them a 3 line threat, which isolated at least one line from a good defensive matchup. Ryan Callahan was a healthy scratch as Colton Orr and Ryan Hollweg played with Betts against the physical Flyers.
Coming up tommorow night is a showdown against the Islanders in the collisium. The Islanders won the only meeteing of the season 2-1 and it should be a good game as the Rangers go for 5. See you then.