Saturday, December 18, 2010

No Third Period Magic Today As Zherdev Burns Rangers Twice In 4-1 Loss To Flyers

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
There is no team that most New York Rangers fans hate more than the Philadelphia Flyers and losing to them is always an awful feeling but it is made worse today by the fact that it was Nik Zherdev who was the decisive player in the game with his two goals on the afternoon.  Zherdev who always has had skill was seen as a flop in big games in his season in New York and someone who did not work on the other side of the ice so to have him stick the knife in the Rangers today only makes the game itself that much worse.

The Rangers put their three game winning streak on the line against the Flyers today and for two periods it seemed like they were not all that concerned with getting the fourth straight, but they would once again play a better third period and battle before finally succumbing 4-1.  Even in a 4-1 loss there were some positives to take away from the fight and battle they showed in third period because they could have laid down especially when the Flyers went up 2-0 early in the final period.  If a couple of calls go differently in that third period it would have been a totally different game, but this team will have to start playing better games early on because you cannot rely on coming back in the third every night.

The Rangers played an ugly first period and if not for Henrik Lundqvist might have gotten blown out of the building before 2 pm even hit, but his stellar work early had them very fortunate to be 0-0 at the end of one.  There were multiple awful plays by the defense core in the period and Henrik kept bailing them out.

The second period was not much better for the Rangers but they would create a few more chances with Christensen hitting pipe early on, but the story for the team was still Lundqvist bailing out the defense.  The Rangers while on the power play following a Zherdev crosschecking penalty would allow Mike Richards to get in, but Erik Christensen would make a good defensive play and then have a brain cramp forgetting all about Richards and letting him walk out in front all alone, but he would miss wide.  At the conclusion of this power play Mike Richards would fling a full ice pass from his defensive corner to the Rangers blue line springing Zherdev as he came out of the box and he would beat Lundqvist with a backhander on the breakaway at 9:06.

The Rangers best chance in the second period was when rookie Dale Weise would get an outlet pass from Dan Girardi and skate into the Philly zone letting a shot rip that would get through Boucher but trickle inches wide after deflecting off the near post.  That chance would seem to inject some life into the club as they would play a much better final few minutes of the second and give hope down only 1-0 going into the third for a third straight comeback in the final period.

In the third the Rangers would start ok, but then just over three minutes in they would get burned when off a faceoff they won the puck would eventually get played from Claude Giroux to a wide open Andres Nodl on the left side of the net and he would beat a helpless Lundqvist to make it 2-0 3:19 into the period. 
The Rangers would respond and look like the Rangers cut the lead to 2-1 when the puck would deflect off Dale Weise skate, but after a lengthy video review it would be ruled a distinct kicking motion and the goal would be disallowed.  In watching it initially I thought it was a distinct kick, but the overhead replay made me wonder since it did not appear the skate moved forward until after the puck had already left, which is what likely made the review take that long.

The team would continue to battle and after a great shift where Derek Stepan made a phenomenal move to get in on Boucher where he would miss the net eventually Alex Frolov would find a cutting Derek Stepan in the slot on a pass from behind the net and Stepan would bury the chance to cut it to 2-1 8:23 in and it seemed the Rangers had momentum.  Flyers coach Peter Laviolette used his time out brilliantly and called it right then and the Rangers never got it back to even.

At 9:57, just 1:34 after the Stepan goal following a bad outlet pass by Michael Del Zotto that was intercepted by Kimmo Timmonen and then poor defensive zone coverage a wide open Timmonen would fire a shot that was deflected off Leino and in to make it 3-1 Flyers.  Nik Zherdev would cap it from a sharp angle off Lundqvist at 15:06 to make it 4-1.

Only other thing of note was Dale Weise dropping the gloves with Dan Carcillo and beating someone Rangers fans certainly hate and that will do nothing but endear Weise to the fan base.
  • Marian Gaborik was invisible again. He either needs to step up or sit down if he is hurt
  • Dale Weise played well in his limited time and certainly earned another game, but he is being sent down right now
  • Del Zotto, Rozsival and Eminger all played awful games defensively
  • Overall the defense was again exposed by playing against speed and skill
  • Boxscore says Henrik gave up 4 but he was brilliant in the game with 35 saves