Flyers Blanked in Road Loss to Rangers

Flyers Blanked in Road Loss to Rangers

Playing their second game in less than 24-hours, the Philadelphia Flyers both looked and played flat for the majority of their afternoon tilt in New York, winding up on the wrong end of a 2-0 final.

Sergei Bobrovsky was mostly solid in his second straight start, but was bested by his Ranger counterpart Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik turned aside all 29 shots sent his way for his second shutout of the year. Saturday was the first time the Flyers have failed to score a goal since a March 31st loss to the Atlanta Thrashers last spring.

Highlights, (another) injury update and some other stray observations below...

Scoring Recap:
After a tightly checked (read: largely uninspiring) first period, the Rangers got on the board early in the second thanks an accidentally successful Brad Richards knuckle puck. New York's big ticket free agent acquisition wound up and mostly missed a one-time opportunity from the right face-off circle, but got just enough behind his shot to send it fluttering toward the goal and behind a screened Bobrovsky.

From there, the Flyers would find a few opportunities—including a goal crease scrum with an extra attacker—but none that could crack Lundqvist.

Fatigue Factor?
Even with the fifteen minutes they still had to get themselves back in the game after falling down 2-0, there was the overwhelming feeling that it just wasn't going to happen on this afternoon for this team.

With the exceptions of some desperate bursts in the third period, the Flyers failed to sustain a presence in the Rangers zone for most of the game. Yes, they had 29 shots on goal, but too few of those opportunities were really quality scoring chances. And when the Flyers did have their good cracks at Lundqvist—a Scott Hartnell breakaway early in the first period, for example—they failed to do anything with them.

The NHL allegedly has a rule preventing teams from playing multiple games within a 24-hour window, but its enforcement is spotty and can allegedly be negated with agreement from the teams involved. Whatever the situation was here, the Flyers seemed to suffer from both a lack of rest and manpower.

With Pronger, JVR and Jagr all out of the lineup, the Flyers do have enough depth both at forward and on defense to make up for those absences... but, maybe not if they have to do it twice in 23 hours.

Further Injuries?
Scary scene in the first period when Andreas Nodl and Danny Briere collided in the neutral zone. Though Briere looked to have taken the worst of it at the time, it was Nodl who would take just two shifts in the second period and never return to the bench from the locker room in the third.

Zac Rinaldo also seemed to be in severe pain after taking a slapper to the inside on his ankle, but would soldier on, albeit for his customarily brief ice time.

Without Nodl as an extra body or the ability to roll four lines, the Flyers simply didn't have the personnel to make up for the holes they were already trying to cover.

Rough Stuff
Speaking of Rinaldo, he would take just six seconds to get into it with New York's Brandon Prust. Just nine minutes later—and only four after leaving the box for his first fighting major—Prust would step in to fight teammate Sean Avery's battle with Wayne Simmonds.

Though both fights will make for good fodder for upcoming installments of the 24/7 series, neither did very much good in terms of sparking the Flyers, with both Simmonds and Rinaldo losing in decisive fashion to the 6'2 Prust.

Videos of each throw down to follow in our ongoing Flyer Fights series...

Bob over Bryz
After looking sharp in relief of Ilya Bryzgalov during the team's come-from-behind win on Long Island Wednesday night, Sergei Bobrovsky was rewarded with back-to-back starts against the Canadiens and Rangers.

Tough to say whether Lavy was just riding the hot hand—as he is wont to do—or trying to send a message to exorbitantly paid and emotionally erratic Bryzgalov. CSN's Tim Panaccio seems to think both, but adds that it's "obviously" a case of the latter, though that's hardly surprising given his penchant for "stuff-stirring."

Ah, the beat writers...

Up Next
The Flyers will enjoy the next six days off and should see the return of at least one or two of those skaters who missed today's game. Jagr aids in making Giroux even more dynamic (if that's even possible), JVR skates as hard, if not harder than anyone on the team, and Chris Pronger is...well, he's frigging Chris Pronger.

The Flyers are a radically different team with any of those mentioned in the lineup, so it's unsurprising to see them look listless and lost on a back-to-back without all three.

They
'll try to right the ship when the travel to the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim to take on the Mighty Ducks next Friday at 10 p.m.

Note: I really don't care what the building or the team is called now. I've made my choice.

NHL Notes: Rangers' Kevin Hayes out 2-3 weeks with lower-body injury

NHL Notes: Rangers' Kevin Hayes out 2-3 weeks with lower-body injury

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes will miss two to three weeks with a lower-body injury.

The team announced the timeline Monday after Hayes underwent an MRI in the morning. Hayes left the Rangers' game Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period.

Hayes had seven points in his previous six games and is third on the team in points with 35. The 24-year-old has 13 goals and 22 assists in 47 games this season.

His injury is a major blow to New York, which holds the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The silver lining for the Rangers is that Hayes will miss fewer games because of the upcoming All-Star break.

Senators sign Zack Smith to 4-year, $13 million extension
OTTAWA, Ontario -- The Ottawa Senators have signed forward Zack Smith to a four-year contract extension worth $13 million.

The Senators said that the extension goes through the 2020-21 season and carries an annual average value of $3.25 million.

Smith, 28, has 11 goals and 11 assists in 43 games this season and is averaging a career-high 16 minutes, 13 seconds per game.

He set career highs with 25 goals and 36 points in 2015-16. He has 75 goals and 61 assists in 443 games, all with the Senators.

Smith was Ottawa's third-round pick (79th overall) in the 2008 draft.

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

In the eighth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 8 is Mathews to Means.

Ryan Mathews
Cap hit: $5M

Roob: The Eagles have to get better, younger, faster, healthier, more durable and more reliable at running back. I love the way Mathews runs when he’s healthy. The guy runs hard and he runs physical and he's aggressive. Then he always gets hurt. Mathews actually has the third-highest per-carry average among running backs in Eagles history, but they just can’t rely on him anymore. How can you count on a running back who misses significant time every year? Time to move on. Factor in the cap savings — $4 million if the Eagles release him — and it’s a no-brainer.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $4 million in cap room to cut the running back who needed serious neck surgery after his season was ended in the Giants' game. Mathews played pretty well in his two seasons with the Eagles, but, as has been the case during his career, health was an issue. And now he’s 29 and will turn 30 early into next season. Time to move on. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Matthews
Cap hit: $1.57M

Roob: Matthews is going into Year 4 and I’d still like to see him make a jump and become a 1,200-yard type of receiver. Maybe it will happen with another year under his belt with Carson Wentz. Matthews has the 11th-most catches in NFL history by a player in his first three seasons — 225, or 75 per year — but his 2,673 yards are 50th most. Matthews is as hard a worker and as committed a player as you’ll see. He'll get the most out of his ability. I’d just like to see him take his game up one more level, and I think he will.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It’s a shame the Eagles don’t have any legitimate threats at their outside receiver positions, because if they did, so much of the burden wouldn’t fall on Matthews. No, he’s not a great receiver, but he’s a very good one who has been solid in his first three years in the league. In his first three seasons, Matthews has 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. There have been just 10 receivers in the league to put up those numbers or better: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, Randall Cobb and Brandon Marshall. Matthews isn’t going anywhere and it’s time to think about an extension. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alex McCalister
Cap hit: $557K

Roob: McCalister, a seventh-round defensive end, spent the year on injured reserve but considering the Eagles’ lack of pass-rush potency, he’ll definitely get a look this summer. McCalister had 17½ sacks at Florida, so he’s got that going for him. Still a long shot.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is tough because McCalister was a seventh-round draft pick who was placed on IR with a injury that didn’t appear to be serious. The last year was a redshirt season for the defensive end who has some pass-rush ability but needed to work on packing more muscle onto his frame. Haven’t seen enough to think he sticks. 

Verdict: GOES

Leodis McKelvin
Cap hit: $3.45M

Roob: The Eagles have to do better than McKelvin. He made a few plays, gave up a lot more, and as far as I’m concerned, the Eagles should hang onto Jalen Mills and get rid of all their other corners. Not to mention the $3.2 million in cap savings the Eagles would gain if McKelvin is released. See ya.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $3.2 million by cutting McKelvin, which will probably happen. If it doesn’t, it’ll be because the Eagles think his lingering hamstring issue played a big role in his play and because defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz goes to bat for him. Ultimately, I think McKelvin’s days in Philly are over. 

Verdict: GOES

Rodney McLeod
Cap hit: $5.6M

Roob: McLeod played really well most of the season, tailed off the last few weeks, and goes into next year a question mark because of that inconsistency. When he’s right, McLeod is a sure tackler, willing run supporter, big hitter and capable in coverage. But those last few weeks raised some eyebrows. There were times you just wondered what he was doing out there. If the Eagles can have the first-10-games McLeod for a full season, they’re fine. But he has to be consistent. He’ll be here through 2017 but after that is anybody’s guess. Another mixed year will likely spell the end here for McLeod.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: There were a few plays that showed questionable effort from McLeod this season, which was shocking based on his past. He was an undrafted rookie who worked his way into the league and into a contract with the Eagles. This ended up being a pretty good signing; he had a nice season. He’s under contract through 2020 and the Eagles hope he hasn’t yet fulfilled his potential. He and Malcolm Jenkins should only get better after more time playing together. 

Verdict: STAYS

Steven Means
Cap hit: $690K

Roob: Means, a veteran journeyman defensive end, played only 36 snaps all year. He did pick up one sack against the Vikings, but as far as his future? Most likely, he won’t be back.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Means did everything in his power last training camp to make the 2016 roster. He flashed every day and in the preseason games. But in 2016, he didn’t get to play very much and was clearly buried on the depth chart behind Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Marcus Smith. The Eagles need to upgrade at the defensive end spot, which might be bad news for Means if more bodies come in. But for now, he's a good depth piece. 

Verdict: STAYS