NEW YORK – First periods haven’t really been a problem for the Flyers this season. As a matter of fact, it’s actually been a real strong suit since Craig Berube took over as coach of the team heading into the fourth game of the season.
But for some reason, in consecutive games, the Flyers have found themselves a bit sluggish to start the contest.
And while it was easily overlooked in their loss against Tampa Saturday – because the second period was the wild and wooly difference in that contest – it’s hard to mask just how bad it was against the Rangers Sunday.
A 4-1 loss in New York was encapsulated in the first 9:24 of the game. The Flyers played slow. The Rangers played fast. The Flyers were down three goals before Sunday dinner had even been cleared from the table.
(Read the Game Recap here)
“We lost the game in the first period to be honest,” said Kimmo Timonen. “Getting down 3-0… they outworked us in the first period. It was as simple as that. In this league if you don’t work and play smart hockey against good teams they’re going to bury you and that’s what they did.
“[Getting behind] 3-0 in the first 10 minutes. That’s the game right there. For some reason we weren’t ready. For some reason we didn’t have the energy that they had and they were better today.
“They came out hard and we didn’t. That’s what happens when they come at you and do a good job hanging onto the puck and skating. This game nowadays is all about skating. It’s not about what defense you have or who do you have on defense. It’s all about skating, putting the puck behind the defense and going and getting it. These last two games… against Tampa we skated pretty well but we didn’t play any defense, Today, we didn’t do either.”
And they lost two consecutive games without registering a point for the first time since the two games in Florida just before Thanksgiving.
And Timonen was right. It’s as if the Flyers were ambushed by the Rangers, who have been playing spirited hockey of late and got all over the Flyers right away.
Continuing a trend of former tough guys scoring goals against them that started in Vancouver when Tom Sestito found the net, Dan Carcillo, recently acquired by the Rangers from Los Angeles, scored an unassisted goal just 2:14 into the game.
A loose puck behind the Flyers net hit Carcillo in the pants and dropped to his feet. Ray Emery lost sight of it and before he could get his bearings, Carcillo stepped in front and backhanded the puck five hole to give the Rangers an early lead.
Then, just 28 seconds later, Rick Nash worked away from Michael Raffl along the wall and skated into the slot, an area of the ice abandoned by Claude Giroux. Chris Kreider found Nash who blasted a shot past Emery for 2-0.
The Flyers had a quick chance to recover on a power play in which they generated six shots on goal, but Henrik Lundqvist was staunch in goal, the Flyers didn’t score, and a little more than a minute later Derrick Brassard found himself in an open area of the ice in front of the net, took a pass from Mats Zuccarello – who out-worked Nick Grossmann for the puck – and it was suddenly 3-0.
“They were way quicker than us in the first period and had the puck more than us in the first period and we ended up getting down,” Berube said. “In the first period we were just slow.
“It doesn’t matter [that we played the day before]. We have to be more ready and we have to be as quick as them. We knew they were going to come out hard. They’ve been playing good. They were quick and we weren’t ready. Well… I don’t know if we weren’t ready – we just didn’t play fast enough in the first period. We were slow with everything. When they had the puck, we didn’t get it back.”
Ironically the Flyers were able to get 17 shots on goal in the first period, but the Rangers still dictated the flow the game and had better puck possession. The Flyers were forced to block 12 shots in the opening stanza and the Rangers had another 11 that missed the net. That meant the Rangers fired 36 shots toward Emery in the first period.
“They jumped us,” said Brayden Schenn. “We had a slow start and had too many penalties. We can’t give that power play too many opportunities, and we did. When that happens guys sit and don’t get involved in the game as much as they should. It just comes down to a bad start.”
The Flyers have been a confident bunch of late, seemingly feeling like no deficit is too large to overcome, and still felt they were in the game until the Rangers made it 4-0 midway through the second period with a power play goal – but sometimes that confidence, while needed, can be relied on too heavily.
“We had a slow start today,” said Mark Streit. “They came with a lot of energy and tenacity and put a lot of pressure on us and we had a hard time getting out of our zone. Defensively the last two games we didn’t play good enough. We gave them too many scoring chances.
“In this league you have to work really hard without the puck – especially in this building and we didn’t do that. Once you are behind by two or three goals it’s hard to catch up. You can’t [come from behind] in every game in this league. You can do it a few times but we just need to make sure we are ready to go Tuesdaty and shake this one off by learning from our mistakes.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers
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