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Rangers Vs. Flyers: Rangers Win Despite Distractions

Notes from the Rangers win over the Flyers.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

- Let's be honest about something here: The Wayne Simmonds thing took on a life of its own over the course of the past week. Even when the Rangers were playing  other teams things still spiraled into Sunday's matchup with the Flyers and how the Rangers were going to "atone" for allowing their captain to get sucker punched and given a concussion.

- And once the game did get here the Rangers talked it off as though they couldn't focus on SImmonds. Excepts as warmups started Dylan McIlrath and him jawed at center ice, fought him and then Tanner Glass and Ryan White jawed at each other and then fought all within the game's first minute. The Rangers, I'm happy to say, truly moved on from that point and did what they should have done: Won the game.

- And it's not that I'm not happy McIlrath bloodied SImmonds up, but it absolutely was not the reason the Rangers won Sunday night. Maybe it jacks the guys on the bench up a little, but they should have been fired up anyway after blowing a late third-period lead against the Kings and dropping a precious point in overtime two days ago. And for as much as everyone talked about how McIlrath stepped up and did his job, he played less than nine minutes last night (less than any other player) so what did it get him? (I know he spend seven minutes in the box, but that still doesn't equate out to him seeing less than nine minutes.)

- My person moment of retribution? Simmonds (at least I think it was him) slamming his stick on the ice in frustration as he skated to the locker room having lost the game 3-1. That felt good.

- Final point about McIlrath: The frustrating part is when he was on the ice he was going a good job at limiting opportunities. McIlrath has gotten so, so, so, so much better at using his long reach to deny opportunities, and it's helped him slow guys up enough to use his frame to knock them off the puck. Imagine, for a moment, that was allowed to actually play real minutes every night and develop. Who is to say he's not one of the team's most valuable defensive defenders right now?

- There were a lot of positives last night. Derek Stepan scored two goals -- including his 100th goal, so congratulations to Step there -- off two "I don't even know what adjective to use, that's how good they were" passes from Mats Zuccarello. Stepan, it should be noted, is one of the calmest players I've ever seen with the puck and a currently empty net. Against Washington in Game 7 he took a minute to make sure he was picking his spot to end the series and last night -- rather than fire it harmlessly over the bar in a hurry -- he waited to make sure the defenseman wasn't going to slide and patiently hammered it home.

- Related: Is Zuccarello a witch?

- Derick Brassard with a huge opening goal -- to help keep some momentum after the fights -- and added an assist later in the game. Great work from him as he continues to be a vital part of the Rangers offense. Him and Zuccarello have done well with Rick Nash out of the lineup?

- Keith Yandle played the third fewest minutes of all defenseman (we'll get to who led the way shortly) but had an assist and actually got an overwhelming amount of power play time. The result? A rare power play goal! Yandle, by the way, has eight points in his last 11 games and the Rangers still haven't shown a true desire to keep him. So, yeah.

-  The ice time leader? Dan Girardi, who actually wasn't as bad as he has been some of this year. Right behind him? Marc Staal, who continues the fight the puck as he has been all week. Those two were the top pairing for most of the game and I just don't get it. In the negative figured in shot attempts (Staal was a -11, Girardi was a -3) and scoring chances. Not sure anyone sees the logic at this point, but it's been like this all year.

- Every time J.T. Miller has the puck I find myself on the edge of my seat. Figured we'd end on that note.