The Flyers ended their two-game losing streak last night while avenging their recent Feb. 18 loss, defeating the New York Rangers by a score of 4-3. Philly had to also overcome yet another hat trick scored against them — this time by American winger Chris Kreider, who was playing with confidence and did all he could without the presence of Artemi Panarin.
For myself, there were two main takeaways from this game.
The first of which would be the play of Brian Elliot, who I have praised multiple times throughout this first quarter or so of the season. Props to GM Chuck Fletcher, the man known as “Moose” has been a flat-out bargain at a $1.5 million cap hit. His movement and anticipation right now may be the best that we have seen in his tenure in here.
On a night where the Flyers actually outshot their opponent, Elliot still had to make multiple tough stops to hold off the Rangers. Center Mika Zibanejad has had his share of struggles so far this season after his 41-goal season last year, and Elliot did not help his confidence in this one.
Even with some quality chances for New York, I could not help but think that this is the kind of game Carter Hart has needed to be played in front of him. In seven out of 11 starts for Hart, he has seen 30+ shots. On the other hand, Elliot has seen 30+ shots twice in seven appearances.
The second major takeaway must be the return of the captain, Claude Giroux.
It was like he was shot out of a cannon, displaying the kind of game-changing ability on offense that made him one of the most consistent performers of the past decade. I instantly noticed the swagger he was playing with on the powerplay, he even ripped a no-look shot at one point. Not to mention he played 20 minutes in his first game back, he seemed to surprise everyone with how much of an impact he made.
And what would talk about the Flyers powerplay be without mentioning James van Riemsdyk, the man can not stop scoring. Joel Farabee found him with a beautiful pass in the second period, a great goal. In his previous five games, he has racked up four goals and a total of seven points.
This season is no fluke, JVR’s positioning and net front play has arguably been some of the best in the NHL. If this team were not getting this output from van Riemsdyk this year, I wonder how much worse our record would be.
Two of the Flyers offensive-minded D-men got on the scoresheet as well, Erik Gustafsson and Shayne Gostisbehere scored in the first period. Ghost in particular stood out for me, he was a +1 and also had an assist to go along with his goal in 20 minutes of ice time. A solid all around showing.
The next game for the orange and black is this Saturday, an afternoon matchup at the Buffalo Sabres. The two teams split their first two games against each other back in mid-late January. Philly will hope that Taylor Hall (1G, 10A for 11 PTS) and Jack Eichel (2G, 12A for 14 PTS) continue to struggle putting the puck in the net.