Rangers look to make it three wins a row against their favorite opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers.
The New York Rangers are hot. Their excellent play in practically every single regard is allowing them to win games, for which they’ve been rewarded fifth place in the division, just three points out of a playoff spot.
The team they’ve jumped to get to fifth? The Philadelphia Flyers, whom they have to thank for much of their success.
They beat up on the “Broad Street Bullies” 9-0 before putting eight past them not 10 days later. The Rangers will have another chance to do some damage against the Flyers in a Saturday matinee.
The lineup will remain the same, but a player to watch is Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad has notched a natural hat trick and three assists in each of the team’s last two games against the Flyers. He’s been historically good and is getting hot at the right time.
He’ll also be playing in his 300th game as a Ranger, an important milestone for the alternate captain. Let’s see if he can put up some more points against his favorite guys.
1st period: Who’s your ZibaneDAD?
Apologies for the bad pun, but Zibanejad is just that.
The Flyers, as many were expecting, came out flying (yes, another bad pun). The Rangers were sloppy with the puck to start the game, but the Flyers were doing a good job of dominating in the offensive zone and getting the puck to the net.
Lucky for the Rangers, Igor Shesterkin looked incredibly sharp and bailed his teammates out. He made a whopping 17 saves in the opening 20 minutes and deserves most of the credit for keeping the Flyers scoreless after one.
The Rangers caught a break when Travis Konecny took a terrible penalty, sending the Blueshirts to the power play, which has been improving game after game.
A beautiful pass through the crease by Ryan Strome to Zibanejad in front of the net resulted in a goal.
Zibanejad continues to completely own the Flyers, against whom he now has 15 points in six games. For context: he has 11 points in 27 games against everyone else.
Strome also remains red-hot and Adam Fox recorded yet another point, strengthening his case for Norris Trophy consideration. Fox now extends his point-streak to six games.
2nd period: Attack more!
The Flyers put pressure on the Rangers to begin the second, as they did in the first. However, the Rangers did well to keep them off the scoreboard and Shesterkin looked great once again.
New York’s special teams were put to the test in the second. They had an opportunity on the power play earlier in the period, which wasn’t terrible but didn’t amount to anything.
They had another another chance on the man-advantage to end the period, but the Rangers couldn’t capitalize in the first 1:54 of the power play. What hurt the Rangers this period was their lack of discipline and inability to create much offense.
The Rangers committed three penalties in the second, one of which gave the Flyers a five-on-three opportunity. The Rangers got out of the five-on-three fine, but the four-on-three that followed didn’t go well.
After their fans showered them with boos, the Flyers took advantage of the momentum that they had to tie the game up.
There wasn’t much more Shesterkin could’ve done, and his teammates would have to be much more disciplined and much more effective offensively.
The Rangers would kick off the third with six seconds left on the power play. Fans will hope for a miracle.
3rd period: Fox: A man of many talents
The Rangers shortcomings of the first two periods extended into the third. They didn’t generate much offense and had to rely on their goalie. The defense hadn’t been perfect all game, but a mistake towards the end of the game proved to be costly.
Samuel Morin and his teammates took advantage of bad positioning by Libor Hájek and Brendan Smith to take the lead. This marked Morin’s first career NHL goal and point.
The Rangers did have a chance on the power play this period, but nothing came of it. Although the Rangers didn’t play particularly well in the third and ended up losing the game, Fox came up with some truly outstanding plays once the net was empty.
The Rangers couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone, and Fox had to play goalie, making three huge saves to keep the score at 2-1. This kid really can do it all.
The Flyers looked like a different team and the Rangers weren’t nearly as great as they have been lately, especially offensively.
However, several players did a lot of things well, especially Shesterkin, who arguably had one of the best games of his young career.
Key Moment: The Kreider penalty
The key moment of the game was the tripping penalty taken by Kreider in the second. Everything went downhill for the Rangers after this penalty.
Rooney went on to take a penalty while the Rangers were already shorthanded and while New York didn’t give up a goal on the five-on-three, they couldn’t keep the Flyers off the scoreboard in the subsequent four-on-three.
Kreider’s penalty also epitomized how undisciplined the Rangers were in the second period.
Player of the game: Adam Fox
We really are running out of words. This kid can do it all and is going to be one of the very best players on this team for years to come. In this game, Fox showed off his ability offensively, defensively, and in net.
His numbers: 25:28 TOI, 1 A, 56.82 CF%, 0.13 iXG, 3 blocks, 0.44 xGF, 0.38 xGA, 0 GF, 0 GA, 1.28 Game Score, -0.62 offensive rating, 0.98 defensive rating, and 0.77 individual rating.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.