The New York Rangers and Flyers are miles apart in the standings, but a case can be made that both teams have equally powerful motivation heading into their meeting Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
While the Rangers (47-21-6, 100 points) will look to regroup from Tuesday’s 4-2 home loss to the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes and ignite their push for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, the moribund Flyers (23-39-11, 57 points) will try to rebound after a humiliating 9-2 road defeat to the Washington Capitals.
New York, which saw its three-game winning streak snapped, is four points behind the Hurricanes. The Rangers and Hurricanes both have eight games remaining in the regular season.
“We came out hard. We competed. We just came up a little short,” Rangers defenseman Adam Fox said. “We’re just going to shake it off and move on.”
The clash was tied 1-1 heading into the third period, but Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said his team lost momentum in the middle frame.
“The second period was the difference — they had too much time in our zone, too much puck possession, they were out-bumping us, but we learned some lessons,” Gallant said.
As disappointing as the result was for Rangers, it came with a huge milestone. Forward Chris Kreider became only the fourth player in Rangers history to score 50 goals in a season.
As proud as he was to join the prestigious 50-goal club, Kreider said he was happy it was in the books so his teammates could concentrate on more important quests.
“I could feel guys looking for me,” said Kreider, who said he believed players were trying to set him up for the goal instead of making the best play. “It’s better for the whole team now that we can go back to playing hockey and taking what the other team gives us.”
The Flyers have lost three of their past four and have just two wins in their past nine games, but a beatdown of Tuesday’s magnitude should snap to attention those who are going through the motions of what’s been a disappointing season.
“You don’t give up nine goals by just one area of your game lacking, so there was a number of areas tonight,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “It’s extremely disappointing, but the good news is we’ve got a chance to respond (against the Rangers).”
Philadelphia’s No. 1 goalie, Carter Hart, left the game after the first period due to a lower-body injury, and forward Cam Atkinson, who was playing in his 700th NHL game, also sustained a lower-body injury in the opening period. There was no word whether either would be able to play against New York.
With the future now more the focus for the Flyers, the game against the Capitals marked the NHL debut of forward Bobby Brink, the 2019 second-round pick who was a huge part of the University of Denver’s NCAA championship squad this year.
Brink, 20, who netted 14 goals and 57 points in 41 NCAA games this season, collected an assist on James van Riemsdyk’s second goal of the game.
“Definitely (wish) it could have been a little better with the result of the game,” Brink said. “But it was definitely nice to play a game, and a dream come true.”
With his two tallies, van Riemsdyk reached 20 goals for the seventh time in his 13-year career.
–Field Level Media