Flyers-Rangers: Postgame Review
The Flyers performance on Saturday out of a week-long break was a welcome sight, so uncommon for a team that struggles after long pauses in the schedule.
Fast forward three days later and what you got on Tuesday was the Flyers typical post-break showing, a dismal 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers that throws the questions of consistency right back into play.
Let's get right to it with our Postgame Review.
- Transition Game - This was a prototypical Rangers win. The Rangers are a team that feasts off of mistakes by the opposition. The Flyers made many mistakes in this game with errant passes, poor skating and just mental mistakes. It seemed like every one of them ended up in the Flyers net.
The Rangers were a team reeling entering this game. The Flyers, on a four-game winning streak of their own, had a chance to capitalize. They didn't. This is one that the Flyers will look back on and feel like an opportunity got away.
- Passing Approach - The Flyers have a real passing problem. It happens far too often that the Flyers will pass up on the shot when it's right there in front of them for the taking and instead force a pass to a teammate.
The best example: on a power play in the second period, the Flyers cycled the puck for a good 30-40 seconds while Mika Zibanejad frantically positioned himself on the penalty kill without a stick. The Flyers passed around several times looking for the opening, which was fine. The pick eventually came to Claude Giroux, who started to pump like he was going to take the shot and was just waiting out the defender in front of him. After two or three pumps, Giroux opted for the pass across ice that was tipped away by the Rangers. That can't happen when you have a virtual 5-on-3 and need a goal desperately.
That was far from the only example of the Flyers passing up a chance, but the point is that it happens way too much for a team that needs to focus on getting pucks to the net. Make the goalie make a save. Make the defense make a play. Instead, the Flyers shot themselves in the foot and beat themselves.
- Turning Point - Well before Giroux passed up a shot on the power play, he was coming up the ice strong on a two-on-one with Scott Laughton shorthanded. Giroux took the shot toward the stick side of Henrik Lundqvist, who made a brilliant save. The rebound eluded Laughton and the Rangers avoided giving up a shorthanded goal to the Flyers that would have put them back in front.
The Rangers scored on the power play moments later to take the lead. Late in the period, when the Flyers had a power play and a chance to go to the first intermission tied or at least down by one, they give up a costly shorthanded goal that makes it a two-goal game with 10 seconds left in the period instead. The Flyers never really recovered after that one.
- Between the Pipes - It was hard to completely fault Brian Elliott given the effort in front of him, but this wasn't a good game for him either. Quite honestly, making a goalie switch could have happened at any point following the shorthanded goal for the Rangers.
Dave Hakstol could have used the first intermission as a chance to both get a goalie who allowed three goals on eight shots out of the net and as a wake-up call for the team in front of him. He didn't. When the Rangers struck again off another bad turnover on a shot through the legs of Elliott, that was a chance as well. Hakstol stayed with Elliott once more. By the Rangers fifth goal, it didn't matter.
Elliott has been good for the Flyers this season, but perhaps the workload of starting some 16 games in a row and getting maybe one or two games off in the last 25-30 games, even after a week off, has started to take its toll.
- Take the Metro - Over the four-game winning streak, the Flyers picked up regulation wins against the Islanders and Devils, certainly a step in the right direction.
But this game, against the Rangers no less, showed a lack of motivation to even take the ice. You can't come out flat like that in a game against a division rival when the playoff picture matters in every game.
In recent years, it seems that games against the Penguins and Rangers aren't as exciting as they used to be. Seeing the Rangers and Penguins on the schedule should still have that emotion and energy behind it. And it does in some ways. These games are big within the division.
But with the way the Flyers have played in them, it doesn't feel that way. It's hard to get up for a rivalry when it seems so one-sided. The Rangers and Penguins have been in control in these matchups in recent years, and that makes it difficult to look forward to games where the Flyers just don't seem to play up to the same level.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.