With their deadline shopping done, the Rangers remained shorthanded, as Patrick Kane did not make his debut, Ryan Lindgren remained out, K’Andre Miller served the first game of his suspension, and the team lacked the cap space to call up a Hartford player. Fortunately, their opponent was the Flyers, and the Flyers are Bad.
The Flyers took an early slash, giving Rangers a powerplay. Mika Zibanejad and Vladimir Tarasenko didn’t waste any time hooking for up on a goal. Artemi Panarin fed Tarasenko the puck in the right circle, before Tarasenko found Zibanejad for a quick finish. This is a prime example of how having a one-timer opposite Zibanejad makes the powerplay even more dangerous. Hart has to respect Tarasenko’s shot rather than cheating to Zibanejad. Exciting stuff.
If you had to guess who scored our first goal in the month of March, the only answer would be __________. pic.twitter.com/JKfw1Zkhtx— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 2, 2023
From there, the Rangers couldn’t stay out of the box, taking three minors over the remainder of the period. The Flyers only had one shot on goal over the course of the first two, but on the third, Rasmus Ristolainen won a battle along the boards and found Owen Tippett all alone in front of the net. The Rangers have given up at least one powerplay goal in the past eight games. That’s made even worse when one considers that the Flyers came into Wednesday ranked dead last in the league in PP% at a paltry 15.6%. Hopefully the Rangers can figure that out in house before the playoffs, because we all know at this point that outside help isn’t coming.
Tipper the Ripper. #NYRvsPHI | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/pAVR9X0ETj— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 2, 2023
The Rangers were abysmal in the second. They spent most of the period stuck in their own zone and looked completely out of sync, frequently turning the puck over on errant passes and failed breakouts. Eventually, Scott Laughton put the Flyers up 2-1 as he walked the puck from the corner board toward the net and found some room above Igor Shesterkin’s shoulder. While Shesterkin likely should have made that save, the blame cannot be placed solely on his shoulders. The Rangers conceded eight high danger chances against and had an unsightly 27.76 xGF%. Maybe they were tired. I’m tired and I’m just writing this crap.
ᴀɴɢʟᴇꜱ. #NYRvsPHI | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/ZyfCOhwM72— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 2, 2023
The Rangers improved in the third, and midway through, they managed to tie the game. Tarasenko created a turnover in the offensive zone. After a few weird bounces, he ended up with the puck again at the center point. He threw the puck toward the net, and Chris Kreider tipped it past Hart. The two-assist performance was Tarasenko’s first multi-point game as a Ranger.
Couldn't have a Mika March goal without one from Kreids to go with it. pic.twitter.com/I9jsxqZ8Il— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 2, 2023
Despite outplaying the Flyers to the tune of a 69.57 xGF%, the Rangers couldn’t find another goal that counts on the scoreboard.
And so began the overtime. The Rangers and their short bench seemed content to possess the puck and eat clock, making safe plays and mitigate risk. Eventually, Tarasenko carried the puck into the offensive zone with speed and fired a wrister. Hart got a piece, but it wasn’t enough, thus clinching a 3-2 victory for the Rangers.
VLADI TARASENKO FOR THE #NYR WIN. #NOQUITINNY pic.twitter.com/OYZ8eppIPj— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 2, 2023
This was a weird, sloppy game for the most part, but it’s hard to know what the takeaway is. The Rangers got the two points with a short bench against an inferior opponent. They once again had trouble putting together a 60-minute performance, but maybe some of that is the roster handicap. It was great to see Tarasenko contribute three primary points, so I don’t want to get too down on him, but the line with him, Zibanejad, and Kreider has fared poorly in both the eye test and statistics. Hopefully this performance and more time to adjust to being away from the only NHL team he’d known will help Tarasenko iron out his game.
The Rangers will take on Julien Gauthier and the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night. They will be at least one skater closer to a full lineup.