Well you had to assume the scoring streak would end at some point, right? In a game that did not lack excitement by any means, the New York Rangers were defended extremely well by the Philadelphia Flyers and open lanes that were available in the previous two contests with the Canadiens and Lightning were not available to the Blueshirts on this night. In the second period, emotions were running high after a chain of fights, but other than that, the entire game saw New York attempt the same approach to generate offense, and they were denied each and every time.
Both clubs started strong in the first period with constant non-stop action up and down the ice. No, that style of play is not a coach's favorite, but it sure is entertaining for the fans. Anyway, James van Riemsdyk broke the scoreless tie at 15:10 of the first, when he was originally stoned on the breakaway by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, but his follow-up rebound found the back of the net and the Rangers found themselves trailing heading into the intermission. On this specific play, the Blueshirts were caught in a change leaving Marc Staal as the lone defensemen in his own zone, and he failed to knock the red hot rookie of the puck, leading to a goal.
About six minutes into the second stanza was when things began to get out of control. A minor scrum in front of Emery led to Daniel Carcillo dropping the gloves and leaving star Marian Gaborik with no choice but to defend himself. Obviously Gaborik went down after a few punches, but there are lines in this sport that you do not cross, and Carcillo crossed one of those lines by brainlessly attacking Gaborik as he did. You simply do not go after the star on the other team when the guy only has one previous fight in his career. This was nothing short of a cowardly move by Carcillo, but it doesn't surprise me looking at his track record and the reputation of the team he plays on.
From that point on, it was all about drawing blood as there were a total of 44 penalty minutes in the second. Sean Avery was the hero by engaging in two fights in the period, one against Scott Hartnell and the other taking care of business with Carcillo. Avery was one of the few who actually seemed to be disturbed by the fact that their star was just pounded in the face (actually, Carcillo mostly caught the shield with his fist) and he stood up for his teammate. Avery must be applauded for what he did, but there is no doubt Carcillo deserved a taste of his own medicine after what he pulled. And Mike Richards managed to gain his team a 2-0 lead at the conclusion of the second when his slapper went off Marc Staal's skate and past Henrik Lundqvist for a goal.
The third period began with Aaron Voros and Aaron Asham dropping the gloves right off the opening faceoff. Again, this was a case of the rangers trying to send a message, and may have even been instructions from Head Coach John Tortorella, who completely exploded on the refs and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette after the Gaborik incident. The remainder of the period was like watching the same thing over and over again with the Rangers getting shutdown on the rush. Avery again mixed it up with Flyers captain Mike Richards at the very end of the game, and rightly so.
The tenacious forecheck and pursuit of the puck we saw in the previous two games at home was not present tonight at the Wachovia Center. They did not have any sustained pressure, the zone was cleared after only one shot on goal, and to boot, there were very few quality chances for the Blueshirts. When there were, we missed the net more often than not. New York certainly did not look like the offensive dominators they were earlier this week that is for sure.
You do have to give credit to Philadelphia, though. They did a tremendous job of clogging the slot and blocking shots. They also had active sticks in the neutral zone where the Rangers were repeatedly stopped. The Flyers played a solid defensive game all around, and got the Rangers off theirs with the garbage they pulled on Gaborik and others.
Among players that I thought made a difference for the Rangers were Sean Avery, Enver Lisin, Vinny Prospal, and Dan Girardi on defense. Avery was all over the place, running his mouth and sticking up for his mates. Enver Lisin was skating very well and had two shots on goal in 11:33 of icetime. Prospal had five shots on goal in the game and was really the only player hitting the net. Girardi was solid in front of Lundqvist, who also made some outstanding robbery stops tonight.
Ranger fans got to experience goal scoring for two nights, but just like that the rapid production is gone. The team was brought back to Earth with their lack luster effort on this night. The Blueshirts will now head out to Montreal where they will take on the Canadiens for the second weekend in a row on Saturday night. Also, I will be sure to see to it that Jim adds the postgame quotes to this because Tortorella let out a few comments that are worth reading.