On a momentous day for Philadelphia sports, when the 76ers will retire Allen Iverson’s number, the Flyers bounced back from an ugly 7-3 loss on Thursday to the San Jose Sharks to defeat their longtime rival, the New York Rangers, 4-2.
Today marked the third of four times this season the Flyers play the Rangers. The teams split the first two games with each winning on their home ice. New York came into today’s game three points ahead of the Flyers in the Metropolitan division and was looking to extend that lead. With incredibly strong play by Flyers’ winger Wayne Simmonds and a stand-on-his-head performance by goalie Steve Mason, the Flyers were able to close ground both in the Metropolitan division as well as the Eastern Conference standings.
Philadelphia came out strong again to start the game scoring two goals only 1:06 apart from each other in the first period. The first goal came on a redirect tip by Vincent Lecavalier (his 13th) and the second came on a beautiful semi-breakaway goal by Sean Couturier (his 10th). Steve Mason was outstanding stopping all 12 shots he faced in the first period.
The Flyers allowed New York to tie the game in the second period before Wayne Simmonds broke that tie with a Power Play goal to regain the Flyers’ lead (his 19th). An insurance goal by Luke Schenn in the third period (his 4th) cemented the Flyers victory.
Wayne Simmonds has really been making a name for himself as one of the NHL’s hardest working players. He picked up his 19th goal of the season as well as his 26th assist in today’s game. He talked about his work ethic after the game:
“I just think it’s hard work and obviously the guys that I’m playing with are a lot of skilled players,” he said. “So they are able to find you and feed you the puck and I just try to go to the net and get my nose dirty.”
It wouldn’t have been a proper Flyers-Rangers rivalry game without a few scuffles and today was no different. Resident NHL tough guys Zac Rinaldo (Flyers) and Dan Carcillo (Rangers) were instigating each other for much of the game. They both served matching 2-minute minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct as well as matching 10-minute majors for game misconduct. Zac Rinaldo talked about these penalties after the game:
“I don’t know what he was thinking,” Rinaldo said. “I have no idea and I can’t speak on his behalf, but I was ready to go, clearly. I dropped my gloves, but he didn’t want a part of it I guess.”
He continued: “I think me hitting him [with a hard check] [ticked] him off a little bit, but we won the game and that’s all that matters. So it’s kudos to us.”
Steve Mason outshined his counterpart Henrik Lundqvist stopping 33 of 35 shots and made multiple huge saves down the stretch to ensure the Flyers victory. Mason spoke modestly about his performance after the game:
“This was one of the more intense games of the season,” Mason said. “It is a great game to come out on top of, but at the end of the day we still have another game tomorrow to get prepared for so we have to put this one right behind us.”
The Flyers currently still hold a playoff spot if the season ended today. However, the Washington Capitals are breathing down their necks only being one point behind in the standings.
Philadelphia will get back to work tomorrow afternoon and attempt to widen their lead in the standings as they head to Washington to face the Capitals.
Flyers related notes:
- The Flyers have recalled goalie Cal Heeter from the Phantoms to replace Ray Emery on an emergency basis as Emery is day-day with a “lower body injury”. Coach Craig Berube stated after today’s game that Emery will not travel with the team to Washington when the Flyers take on the Capitals tomorrow afternoon. However, Berube would not say whether Heeter will get the start over Mason who has just played two tough games in a row.
- Former (albeit brief) Flyer and NHL Legend Jaromir Jagr scored his 700th career NHL goal today. He is now only one of seven players to ever reach that plateau. What’s even more amazing is that the 42 year old Czech born player sat out 4 total seasons in the NHL to play overseas. It’s safe to say if he had played those years in the NHL he would be 2nd all time in goals only behind “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky.