Game Recap: Flyers vs. New York Rangers

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Philadelphia Flyers.

Which version of the Broad Street Bullies, you ask?  Well, today it was the “eh, I’d like two points, but not really feeling the need to play hard” team.  Yesterday, it was the “I want the points, and I’ll get them damn it” squad.  Unfortunately, the latter makes far less appearances than the former.

Jeff Carter reacts after Danny Briere had beaten Henrik Lundqvist for the contest's first goal

Nonetheless, an uninspired, and quite fatigued-looking Flyers team took to the ice today at Madison Square Garden in a game that was far more important for their opponents than for the Flyers themselves.  The New York Rangers, much like the Boston Bruins on Thursday in Philadelphia, knew that two points were imperative at the end of this afternoon’s game.  The Flyers knew that for them, the points were not something that had to happen, but instead something that would be nice to have happened.  Therefore, is it really any surprise that the Rangers are the team skating away with the two points at the final buzzer?  The answer, unfortunately, is a simple “No.”

Danny Briere got Flyers fans’ collective hopes up as he started the scoring early in the first on the Flyers’ first power play of the game.  It was an odd goal, looking like it changed direction via Scott Hartnell’s stick, but nonetheless, no change in goal was made.  Henrik Lundqvist never saw the shot, but he would have a grip on every Flyers shot that came his way the rest of the game.  The Rangers weren’t phased by the Flyers’ early marker, as they continued to bring the pressure into the Flyers end time and time again.

Eventually, after 177+ minutes of scoreless action against their Philadelphia foes, the Rangers broke through off a rebound that the pesky Sean Avery buried to give the Broadway Blueshirts a tie in the game.  Less than two minutes later, the Rangers struck again on the power play, as a Michael Roszival slapshot whizzed by a clueless Michael Leighton and into the net.  It turned out that three-minute flurry by New York would be all the boys in blue would need as the Flyers at that point in time decided to call it quits.  The team was lacking energy for much of the game and they seemed only more deflated after the Rangers took the lead.  The Rangers, on the other hand, used their newfound lead as a spark.  They took it to the Flyers on the offensive, peppering Leighton way more than they usually do to an opposing goaltender, and punishing the Flyers each and every time they touched the puck.  Michael Del Zotto played particularly well for the Rangers in this one, as he was constantly making Flyer forwards pay for stepping below the circles in the Rangers’ defensive zone.

Sean Avery contributed 2 goals - and a ton of Flyers frustration - to lead his team to victory

Overall, it was a tumultuous encore to a weekend that suddenly became so promising after yesterday’s heroics.  The Flyers had the chance to go soaring into an ultra-important road trip over the coming week, but instead succumbed to a team full of desperation.  In the big picture, the loss isn’t the desire, but it is accepted because it isn’t a huge dent in the Flyers’ playoff plans.  However, if the Flyers are to slide this week with games in Nashville, Dallas, and Atlanta, things could change drastically.

The Flyers had the playoff energy yesterday at the Wachovia Center, but today at Madison Square Garden, the same energy was no where to be found.  If the Flyers don’t start playing consistent hockey – and show they want each and every game, night in and night out – it’s going to be another quick playoff run for this group, if anything at all.  The talent is there, and when the desire is there they can play with anybody.  The problem is making both those aspects co-exist on a consistent basis.  The Flyers will have a tremendous opportunity to try that process out this week on the road.  For their sake, let’s hope they get it right.

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