PRESEASON GAME 7: FLYERS VS. RANGERS
In a rematch of Monday’s preseason tilt at Madison Square Garden, the Philadelphia Flyers will play host to the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. Game time is 7:00 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised locally on TCN Philadelphia and nationally on NHL Network.
Tonight’s match marks the Flyers’ third straight “official” game night, which is something that is not permitted in the NHL during the regular season.
Including Saturday’s early evening scrimmage in Allentown, the Flyers have actually participated in games in four straight nights and five games in the last six evenings.
The brutally compacted slate of games has made it impossible to conduct normal practices or for head coach Craig Berube to ice something that closely resembles the projected opening night lineup. On a daily basis for the last six nights — with the exception of last Friday — the members of the team haven’t even been in the same place. A portion of the roster stays back in Voorhees, NJ, to practice. The rest has been traveling to play in games in other towns.
Nevertheless, this does not excuse the woefully subpar performances the decided majority of the Flyers’ established NHL roster players produced on Sunday in Newark against the Devils and last night in New York against the Rangers. Too many of the NHL veterans have come out and mailed in unmotivated efforts, leaving the roster bubble players, rookies and AHL-bound veterans to shoulder the load. Preseason or not, that is unacceptable.
Tonight, the Flyers will look to even their preseason mark to 3-3-1. There will be a pregame skate at the Skate Zone in Voorhees at 10:30.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux may play tonight or in the preseason finale in Washington on Thursday. Goaltender Ray Emery, who missed much of last week after sustaining a lower-body injury but has practiced each of the last few days, is likely tabbed to start tonight barring any setbacks.
************* PRESEASON GAME 6: FLYERS STAGGER OUT OF THE GATES, FALL 6-3 TO RANGERS
The New York Rangers blitzed the Philadelphia Flyers for three goals in the opening 10 minutes of Monday night’s preseason game at Madison Square Garden and went on to cruise to a 6-3 win. One night after getting outshot by a 41-16 margin in New Jersey, Philadelphia got outshot 37-25 by the Rangers.
The Flyers dressed the minimum number of NHL veterans required by NHL rules for preseason games. The forward lineup was especially jumbled. None of the four lines featured even two players who are likely to be in the Flyers’ opening night lineup in Boston next Wednesday.
Truth be told, however, most of the Flyers’ least effective players in last night’s game were the guys who are locks for NHL jobs. It was the NHL bubble players, rookies and AHL veterans who showed energy and competitive fortitude against their New York counterparts (which included many of the team’s top NHL regulars).
The Flyers were defensively sloppy throughout the game, defensemen and forwards alike. Starting goaltender Steve Mason was not in top form early in the game, but got better as the night moved along.
Mason committed himself too early at times and looked vulnerable high to the short side (something that wasn’t a problem last season but which has resulted in three goals in the preseason) four of the six goals he yielded were attributable to horrific defensive breakdowns. One was a deflection that would have gone wide of the net had it not hit Jesper Fast and re-directed. Two were line rush goals. As the game progressed, Mason made several outstanding saves on very tough chances.
The first New York goal, scored by prospect Anthony Duclair, was scored from a bad angle over Mason’s glove side shoulder. It was a perfectly placed shot but not the type of goal that sets a good tone for the goaltender. Apart from Duclair’s goal, Ryan Haggerty and Fast tallied two goals apiece. Chris Mueller scored on New York’s lone power play of the game.
The most concerning part of last night’s game was how poorly the Flyers’ top defensive pairing of Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald performed throughout the game. Both members of the pair were beaten off the rush by Haggerty on the second New York goal and were part of a weak penalty killing effort that ended in Mueller’s power play goal after a virtual shooting gallery of rubber got fired on Mason’s net from all angles.
Likewise, veteran defenseman Nick Schultz — who has had three below-average performances in the preseason — was a prime culprit in the fourth New York goal. A bad turnover up the ice by Schultz forced enforcer forward Zack Stortini to try to defend near the Flyers’ blueline, and the result wasn’t pretty.
Brayden Schenn, who centered the top line, had only a few good shifts in the entire game. He did get an assist off a faceoff win in the offensive zone. Schenn, who has struggled on draws for much of his NHL career to date, went 7-for-20 overall on faceoffs. He was also part of a defensive breakdown, along with rookie Samuel Morin, that led to the sixth and final New York goal.
The brightest spot for the Flyers was the play of rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. The speedy offensive defenseman continued to show off a quick and accurate shot — which found the net through traffic for the Flyers’ third and final goal. It is also worth noting that rookie forward Taylor Leier has tallied goals in each of the last two games. Last night, Leier got the Flyers on the board early in the second period on a wraparound goal that went in off a sprawled Henrik Lundqvist (22 saves on 25 shots). Gostisbehere triggered the sequence by collecting a turnover by New York’s J.T. Miller.
Other Flyers who performed well in the game included veteran bubble player Blair Jones and competing forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (especially early in the game). Jones had to go off for repairs after being hit in the face with a puck, but did not seem seriously hurt.
Jones and Stortini both had fights in the first period after the Flyers fell into a 3-0 hole. Stortini had a very, very long bout with New York agitator Tanner Glass, who held his own against the massive Stortini. Two minutes later, Jones had a go with star Rangers’ defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Coincidentally or not, the two fights seemed to wake the Flyers up emotionally. The game was fairly even — although both sides were quite sloppy defensively — over the remaining 48 minutes. Unfortunately for the Flyers, they were already in too deep of a hole to climb out of on this night.
The game got chippy and testy at times, which was to be expected.
New York’s lone power play came about when Morin took exception to being slew-footed by the much smaller Mats Zuccarello and retaliated with a cross-check. Morin’s night overall was mixed. He made several noticeable mistakes but also made many strong plays with and without the puck.
Second-year pro Mark Alt had some decent shifts paired with Schultz but got himself in trouble a couple times against an aggressive New York forecheck. Meanwhile, rookie center Scott Laughton was a plus-one in 16:37 of ice time and quietly played a steady if unspectacular game.
The Flyers line combinations were as follows:
Michael Raffl – Brayden Schenn – Andrew Gordon
Taylor Leier – Scott Laughton – Blair Jones
Zac Rinaldo – Pierre-Eouard Bellemare – Jason Akeson
Darroll Powe -Chris VandeVelde – Zack Stortini
Andrew MacDonald – Braydon Coburn
Samuel Morin – Shayne Gostisbehere
Nick Schultz – Mark Alt
This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.