This was the Rangers last preseason game before their Magical Mystery Tour kicks off to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, and finally Sweden and boy did the Flyers want to make an early, and lasting, impression.
The first period was about as ugly a first period as you could get. While it started with Andreas Thurssen getting his first goal of the preseason off some wonderful passing and offensive zone play by Sean Avery and Brian Boyle. After that is when everything began to blow up. It started with Michael Sauer falling into the boards awkwardly after being hit by Zac Rinaldo.
After the ensuing scuffle, MSG caught Avery and Wayne Simmonds chatting each other up before a face off, most likely not sharing fashion tips, and after Tom Sestito drove in from the turnpike and boarded Andre Deveaux, who had his back turned to the play, all hell broke loose as the game became a mess of penalties and power plays that eventually saw ex-Ranger Jaromir Jagr score his first goal of the night using Ryan McDonagh as a screen launching his signature one timer past Henrik Lundqvist.
The Second period saw both teams even out the physical play with some more offense both John Mitchell and Brian Boyle scored power play goals for the Rangers while Jagr added his second of the game and future AHLer Matt Read netted power play goals to make things all even at 3 going into the third period.
Going into the third period the Rangers spent the first two periods without Michael Sauer who did not return after hurting his shoulder when he slammed it awkwardly into the boards. The Rangers also lost the "services" of Sean Avery after he hurt his leg blocking a shot in the second period (more on Sean later).
The third period saw both teams slow the pace of the game down as both teams played more possession hockey and took fewer chances with both teams trading close calls with Brayden Coburn notching Philly's fourth goal (and it's first even strength goal of the game). Wayne Simmonds added the empty netter to seal the deal for the Flyers as they skated away with the victory.
After the jump; Highlights, My Good, Bad and Ugly and some closing thoughts
Brian Boyle had a very strong game in my opinion. He won key face offs in the offensive zone, one in which directly resulted in his deflection of a Dan Girardi shot for a power play goal
Mats Zuccarello: Mats was buzzing all around the offensive zone when he was out there. Getting down deep, fighting for pucks and using his great vision to set up John Mitchell for a nice power play goal in the second
John Mitchell: Mitchell had a very strong game tonight and he cashed in with a power play goal finishing off a perfect feed from Mats Zuccarello. Mitchell has been slowly making a case for himself and tonight's game will keep him in the back of the minds of Ranger fans and brass alike.
Tim Erixon: The rookie has had a strong preseason camp thus far but today he had his first bad game as he was put on the short handed unit with Michael Del Zotto to try and stop the Philadelphia power play and more importantly try to stop Jaromir Jagr. Well, it didn't work, Erixon often looked out of his element and would sometimes lose his coverage of Jagr which would lead to him getting good looks on the power play. While 5 on 5 and on the power play Erixon looked like the calm, confident defender we have been hearing so much about this offseason. He did however take a couple of stupid penalties when it seemed like every player was taking stupid penalties.
Michael Del Zotto: Del Zotto had a very similar game that Erixon, he showed that he's not ready to face top competition and when he was on the ice against the Flyers best it showed. Del Zotto did look more focused on the power play and he started looking for open teammates in order to set up plays instead of rushing plays that were not there
Eric Christensen: Hello? EC? You there? That sound you hear is the sound of your window of opportunity quickly closing. I had to check the stat sheet to remind myself that he was playing tonight. I can understand guys like Ryan Bourque and Carl Hagelin not having as much of an impact in a game like this since Torts did not put them in a lot of special teams opportunity. Meanwhile, Eric had ample time on the Rangers power play tonight and came up empty. His time is quickly running out.
Sean Avery: Oh Sean, this game played right into your wheelhouse; both teams were running high on emotion as both teams began hitting everything in an opposing team's jersey. However, Avery got himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for mouthing off a referee. Did Sean get hit up high? Yes, he did. Did he have every right to complain? Yes, he did. But he should have had the sense to realize that the refs were watching him since he and Wayne Simmonds were going after each other both verbally and physically all night. It was a stupid penalty at a time where the Rangers couldn't afford one and for a player who is really on the bubble for this roster, he is lucky EC had such a bad game
Wayne Simmonds: For a guy who was the victim of a racial taunt last night, you guys all know what happened, it appears that Simmonds called Avery an ugly homophobic slur. This has been verified by the Rangers beat reporters and Sean Avery himself. Here's the video evidence, you can read lips on this one. Doesn't have to be repeated but that's just not cool on Simmonds part
Tom Sestito: This is a textbook case for Brendan Shanahan. Sestito set the tone for an ugly first period when he came out of literally nowhere to hit Andre Deveaux square in the back at full speed to send Deveaux hard into the boards.
This was a very uneven game to judge the talent in the lineup due to all of the special teams play in this game but with all of the hoopla surround the Winter Classic finally being announced both teams came out with a lot of emotion and played a very physical game. With the Rangers now heading over to Europe to begin a very tough road trip to say the least, this wasn't exactly the game they were expecting to play tonight.