WRAPUP: FLYERS BLANKED BY BLUESHIRTS
In a scenario that has become all too familiar in recent years, the Philadelphia Flyers came up short against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in a 2-0 loss on Wednesday night. The Flyers fell to 7-8-2 on the season as they lost for the third consecutive game.
Backup goaltender Cam Talbot made 31 saves for the Rangers, but was not tested much until the latter part of the game.
In a performance that was reminiscent of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals this past April, Flyers goaltender Steve Mason was the primary reason the game even stayed close. Mason stopped 32 of 34 Rangers shots and had little chance on goals by New York defenseman Kevin Klein and top-scoring forward Rick Nash (power play).
The Flyers, who went 0-for-4 on the power play and nearly yielded a shorthanded goal while going 3-for-4 on the penalty kill, have yielded seven opposition power play goals in the last three games. The damage could have been worse on this night but Mason made several outstanding saves. On the bright side, Philadelphia survived both ends of a 5-on-3 penalty kill. in the third period.
Not even the presence of Flyers captain Claude Giroux — who was said on Tuesday to be likely to miss at least two games with a lower-body injury — could spark the Flyers in this game. Jakub Voracek had a strong game (five shots on goal in eight attempts) in terms of finding lanes but saw a career-best 10-game point streak come to an end. Giroux and Brayden Schenn had respective five-game point streaks end.
In his first regular season game at Madison Square Garden since being traded last year, Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto left the game with a lower-body injury sustained in a collision with Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi early in the third period. He is officially day-to-day.
The Flyers, who have to score first in any road game this season, fell behind 1-0 at 5:10 of the first period. Sean Couturier and Braydon Coburn lost puck battles down low in the offensive zone and Carl Hagelin found Klein wide open near the hash mark for a quick shot that beat Mason.
New York extended its lead to 2-0 at 7:43 of the middle stanza on Nash’s power play goal. On the play, eventual goal scorer Nash eluded Coburn and Nicklas Grossmann was not able to shut down the passing line as Martin St. Louis fed Nash cross-ice for a tap-in goal.
The Flyers, who got off to a very slow start offensively as they lost battle after battle and were massively outskated by the Rangers, picked up the pace in the third period. The final three-plus minutes were spent with Mason pulled for an extra attacker but the Flyers were no better able to solve Talbot than they often are against Henrik Lundqvist, especially in games at MSG.
The game marked the second time this season the Flyers have been shut out. They were previously blanked, 4-0, by the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 21. Following the loss to the Rangers, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall laced into the team in the locker room within earshot of reporters in attendance.
Philadelphia will not hold a morning skate on Thursday.
************** PREVIEW: FLYERS VS. WILD
Needing a win to halt a three-game losing streak, the Philadelphia Flyers (7-8-2) play host to the Minnesota Wild (10-7-0) at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. With Flyers Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for Eric Lindros and John LeClair commencing at 7:00 p.m. EST, the estimated start time for the game is 7:55 p.m. EST. The Hall of Fame induction and game will be broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia.
This is the first of two meetings between the inter-conference teams this season. The clubs will rematch in St. Paul on Dec. 23 in both team’s final game before the NHL’s annual Christmas break. Last season, the teams split their two games with each winning on home ice. On Dec. 2, 2013, the Flyers got shut out 2-0 in St. Paul in a game that entered the third period scoreless. On Dec. 23 in Philadelphia, two goals and three points by Wayne Simmonds powered the Flyers to a 4-1 win in a game the Flyers led from the 1:52 mark of the first period onward.
The Flyers are playing in the second half of back-to-back games. The Wild have been idle for three nights. After this game, the Flyers face the Columbus Blue Jackets at home on Saturday. Minnesota heads to the Sunshine State to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and Florida Panthers on Monday. FLYERS OUTLOOK
The Flyers have not led at any point in their last three games; all regulation losses. Along with penalty killing meltdowns, slow starts have been a major problem for the Flyers for the majority of the season to date.
Michael Del Zotto’s status for this game is unknown as of this writing. If he is rendered unable to play by the lower-body injury he sustained in Wednesday’s loss to the Rangers, one or both of
defensemen Andrew MacDonald (right knee) and Luke Schenn (left shoulder) could be available to rejoin the lineup after undergoing several days of practice with the club.
Left winger Michael Raffl (right foot) skated on his own for part of Monday’s practice. He is still said to be a few weeks from being ready to play again. WILD OUTLOOK
Minnesota endured a four-game losing streak earlier this month with consecutive regulation losses in which the team either got shut out (Ottawa) or scored just one goal (Pittsburgh, Montreal and New Jersey). Since that time, however, the club has righted its ship with three straight wins.
For the season, the Wild have not fared nearly as well on the road as they have at home. Mike Yeo’s team is 3-6-0 away from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where the club has gone 7-1-0 to date.
Former New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise (12 games played, six goals and six assists) and former Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville (four goals, eight assists) share the team scoring lead with 12 points apiece. Ex-Islander Nino Niederreiter paces the team with eight goals. Ryan Suter (one goal, eight assists) leads the attack from the blueline. Darcy Kuemper (2.03 goals against average, .914 save percentage, three shutouts) has generally been excellent in goal.
The Wild are missing key defenseman Jonas Brodin (jaw). Often-controversial forward Matt Cooke (lower body) is also on injured reserve and unavailable for this game. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)
Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 3.00 (6th), Wild 2.88 (8th)
Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 3.12 (26th), Wild 2.29 (8th)
Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.97 (T-17th), Wild 1.19 (T-6th)
Power play efficiency: Flyers 23.0% (6th), Wild 9.3% (28th)
Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 71.4% (30th), Wild 89.3% (2nd)
Faceoff percentage: Flyers 50.1% (14th), Wild 49.8% (16th) Projected lines (Subject to change, will be updated)
10 Brayden Schenn – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek
24 Matt Read – 14 Sean Couturier – 17 Wayne Simmonds
18 R.J. Umberger – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 40 Vincent Lecavalier
36 Zac Rinaldo – 49 Scott Laughton – 76 Chris VandeVelde
55 Nick Schultz – 5 Braydon Coburn
8 Nicklas Grossmann – 32 Mark Streit
47 Andrew MacDonald – 22 Luke Schenn
29 Ray Emery
[35 Steve Mason]
Scratches: Jason Akeson (healthy), Carlo Colaiacovo (healthy), Michael Del Zotto (lower body), Michael Raff (right foot).
11 Zach Parise – 9 Mikko Koivu – 29 Jason Pominville
22 Nino Niederreiter – 64 Mikael Granlund – 14 Justin Fontaine
26 Thomas Vanek – 3 Charlie Coyle – 16 Jason Zucker
18 Ryan Carter – 56 Erik Haula – 21 Kyle Brodziak
20 Ryan Suter – 46 Jared Spurgeon
6 Marco Scandella – 39 Nate Prosser
2 Keith Ballard – 55 Mathew Dumba
35 Darcy Kuemper
[32 Niklas Bäckström]
Scratches: Jonas Brodin (jaw, IR), Matt Cooke (lower body, IR), Stu Bickel (healthy).
********** LINDROS AND LECLAIR HALL OF FAME CEREMONY
Legion of Doom linemates Eric Lindros and John LeClair will be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame prior to tomorrow’s game. Among the former teammates in attendance for the ceremony will be original Legion of Doom right winger Mikael Renberg, who has traveled from Sweden to be on hand to honor his former teammates.
During the game, Flyers players will sport one-night-only “10/88” patches on their jerseys in honor of LeClair (who wore number 10 during his Flyers playing days) and Lindros (who wore number 88 throughout his career). All fans in attendance at the game will receive a special edition Flyers Hall of Fame poster depicting the two inductees.
For my first article for the Flyers Alumni Official Site, I have taken an in-depth look at the Flyers’ careers of Lindros and LeClair as well as the often-overlooked importance of Renberg to the team before serious injuries prematurely took a bite out of his effectiveness on the ice.
********** QUICK HITS: NOVEMBER 20
* AHL: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms captured a 3-2 home win via shootout against the Hershey Bears on Wednesday night. The Phantoms grabbed an early 2-0 lead on even strength goals by Andrew Gordon and Brandon Manning. Rob Zepp stopped 27 of 29 shots in regulation and overtime and then turned back all three Bears shooters he faced in the shootout. Blair Jones’ tally in the second round proved to be the winning goal. Jones also earned an assist on Gordon’s goal in the first period. Robert Hägg led all players with a game-high eight shots on goal and assisted on Lehigh Valley’s opening goal.
* Super Series: The annual six-game Subway Super Series between the Russian national under-20 team and squads representing each of the three CHL leads comes to conclusion on Thursday night in Rimouski, Quebec. Team QMJHL, which downed the Russians by a 3-1 count in Bathurst, New Brunswick on Tuesday night, needs a win to salvage a 3-3 split in games for the CHL squads. Flyers 2014 second-round pick Nicolas Aube-Kubel did not figure in the scoring in Tuesday’s win for Team QMJHL. Flyers 2013 first-round pick Samuel Morin had to withdraw from the tournament due to a broken jaw but hopes to return to the Rimouski Oceanic lineup within the next few days.
* Starting today, my daily “Today in Flyers History” items and “Alumni Birthday” thumbnail bios will migrate to the Flyers Alumni Official Site.