The Flyers are now 0-2 in the Winter Classic, and 4-of-5 visiting teams have now won the New Years’ media event. After taking a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, the Flyers allowed three unanswered goals to the visiting NY Rangers, in the showdown at Citizens Bank Park, to lose 3-2. The home team had the early advantage in attack time and shots, but tough bounces and tougher ice conditions kept them from holding onto the lead.
The Flyers have now lost three of their last four games, and have allowed 14 goals, during that time. Coach of the Flyers, Peter Laviolette, decided to go with backup goaltender, the 23-year-old, Sergei Bobrovsky against the Rangers, to reward him for his good play this season.
After this game, Bobrovsky now has a record of 8-3-1, a goals against average of 2.56, and a save percentage of .914, which has been far superior to the Flyers starter, Ilya Bryzgalov, in recent games. Bryzgalov has a record of 14-8-3, goals against average of 3.01, and a save percentage of .890.
In the game, Bobrovsky stopped 30-of-33, and looked sharp throughout the match. On the other end, Henrik Lundqvist made all the difference stopping 34-of-36, and looked brilliant, including a stop on a penalty shot from goal scorer Danny Briere. Without Lundqvist’s play, the Flyers could’ve taken a much larger lead early on.
Flyer defenseman Braydon Coburn, who finished the game with five hits and a plus-one, commented on Laviolette’s choice of Bobrovsky over Bryzgalov for the big game. “I don’t think there’s second guessing at all. It was the logical choice. He’s been playing great.”
Blueliners, Coburn and Matt Carle, led the Flyers in shots, with five each. Lundqvist saw a number of shots from defensemen, 14 total from the point, and in the later parts of the game had to deal with a lot of traffic in front from the likes of Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds. Hartnell had a big impact on the night, tallying a total of 13 hits and 3 shots on goal, but was unable to score.
A stand-out star for the Flyers was Brayden Schenn, who went 12-of-4 in the faceoff circle, and scored his first NHL goal off of a rebound from a point shot.
Schenn has recently rejoined the Flyers after recovering from his second injury of the season. The first was a broken foot, and this latest injury a concussion.
A sour note for the Flyers in general, the injuries continue to stack up, as a spear against star winger Jaromir Jagr began to bother him in the second period of the game. He played only two shifts in the second, and didn’t return for the third. His condition is listed as day-to-day.
Once the Rangers took the 3-2 lead, they began dumping the puck in, and forcing the Flyers to move the puck 200 feet to get into scoring position. The late game ice was a factor in the break-out and crispness of the passes.
“In the first period, it was pretty good ice,” said 25-year-old rookie Matt Read. “As the game got going on it got more snow and bumpy out there, but, you know, both teams were playing on it.”
On his team’s third period play, Laviolette said, “It didn’t seem like we could get the puck in. I don’t know about the forecheck. It seemed like we had trouble getting through the neutral zone.”
If the Flyers had won this game, they would have tied the Rangers in points in the standing, and put themselves in a good place to take over first place. As it is, they’ve now lost all three games they’ve played against the Broadway Blue shirts, with three games left to even the season series.
The Flyers are back at it this Thursday, against the red hot Chicago Blackhawks, who’ve gone 8-2 in their last ten games, and lead the Western Conference with 52 points. They’ll need to find consistency if they want to compete down the later stages of the season. The question is, which goaltender will get the nod, Bryzgalov or Bobrovsky?