No matter how bad the Flyers’ season is going, you’ll always take a scrappy win over the New York Rangers—even and especially when the Rangers aren’t very good either.
Orange & Black’s 2-1 victory over the Rags at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday was in many ways a throwback. The rivals brawled—a lot—and even though there was absolutely nothing on the line and both teams are bad at the moment, they played desperate like two teams with three wins between them should.
Make that four wins between them, and Philadelphia no longer has the fewest points in the NHL (sorry Buffalo). Matt Read and Braydon Coburn supplied the goals, while Steve Mason stopped 30 of 31 shots—is the 25-year-old, former-Calder-Trophy-winning goaltender the most underrated story in Philadelphia right now?
Huge win for the Flyers coming out of a week-long break, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to get people back on board. Fans always love to see some character and emotion though, and both of those features finally arrived in bulk when Wayne Simmonds went to town on Rangers forward Brandon Mashinter during the second period.
Mashinter essentially made the mistake of putting his hands on the wrong person, because that was about all it took to make Simmer pull the poor kid into his arena. After getting bullied for a few seconds, Mashinter finally decides to stand up for himself, the end result being one we bloggers know all too well (right Enrico?).
The fight is a classic in part because the officials don’t jump in too soon. Simmonds takes his time and even drops to a knee at one point, but he’s simply being a predator, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When he pounces, his victim has no chance.
Enjoy them while they last. Fighting won’t be a part of professional hockey forever.
Simmonds’ fight was definitely the highlight of the night, but the near-decapitation of Max Talbot less than two minutes later sucked a lot of that energy right out of the building. Journeyman winger Benoit Pouliot’s shove from behind sent Talbot staggering to the dressing room, and he might’ve been lucky to be moving at all after a face-first collision with the boards.
Amazingly, Talbot would actually return in the third period with his nose heavily bandaged. Maybe—and this might be a long shot—that kind of toughness is what the Flyers need right now. The Flyers talked about it a little bit after the game.
More than fights and tough guys, Philly needs wins right now, and they finally picked up one of those as well. Don’t completely discount what these extra-curricular activities can do for the attitude in the dressing room right now though. Beating the Rangers 2-1 may not be pretty, but efforts like these can occasionally turn a team's fortunes around.