The Rangers won their front end of their home-to-home matchup against the Flyers on Friday, shutting out Philadelphia 2-0. New York dominated play throughout, notching a goal in each in period as well as one on the power play, even strength and shorthanded. This victory, like the wins over Philly last Monday and Montreal last Wednesday, were complete team efforts.
New York prevented Philly from gaining any speed through the neutral zone and benefitted from several Flyers’ turnovers. Philadelphia was very casual with the puck in their own end, resulting in several good looks for the Rangers. In addition, what has become the norm for the Flyers – silly penalties – were once again on full display, preventing the orange and black from getting any momentum.
The fourth line of Lee Stempniak-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast did a great job of limiting Claude Giroux and his line mates, with that trio’s first shot coming 28 minutes into the game. Whenever the Flyers did get a good look, Cam Talbot stood stall, notching 26 saves, which comes on the heels of his 31 saves in his shutout against Philly last week. It’s great to see Talbot really back on his game, after he struggled this pre-season and earlier in the year, as that enables New York to rest Henrik Lundqvist when needed, as they did today.
Derek Stepan had the magic touch today, notching the primary assist on all three goals. With Stepan in mid-season form, the middle of the Rangers’ lineup, which was so in question, looks set with Stepan, Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes and Moore. Plus, there is some depth in Hartford with Oscar Lindberg, though that might be an area to further fortify down the road.
Martin St. Louis notched an assist on Dan Boyle’s PPG in the first and MSL’s goal in the second was point number 1,000 in his stellar career. The goal came following some horrible own zone play by Philly and good forechecking by New York. St. Louis went to the front of the net to pot a rebound to get the round number point. Plus, with the marker coming in the win, it probably makes it even sweeter.
We are running out of superlatives for Rick Nash. His 16th goal was the second shorthanded one of his season, as he continues to show a nose for the net. After last season’s struggles, he is locked and loaded. That goal also came on a great transition, with New York winning a battle behind the net to create an odd-man rush that Nash potted.
The win was great, now do it again tomorrow. Philly is a tire fire right now, losing six straight on the road and 1-6-1 in their last eight. But New York has to advantage of that likely dip in confidence and get the next two points to win the weekend. Today’s win is nice, but if they don’t follow it up Saturday with another one, we all will feel they blew the weekend.
The team overall played well though Ryan McDonagh had a bit of rust as expected in his first game back from his separated shoulder. However, that rust term is relative to him, as Mack Truck played 22:12 in his return to action. In addition, someone tell Chris Kreider to keep his stick down on the ice to avoid high-sticking penalties. Other than Lundqvist being in for Talbot, the lineup should be the same Saturday as it was today.
A great win, now do it again tomorrow.