The New York Rangers have been one of the least predictible teams in the NHL this season. They constantly fall behind early and have to come back to win. They are an analytics nightmare. They have dominated teams like Florida and Tampa and lost to teams that they should have beaten. This game was the perfect example as the Rangers came dangerously close to being beaten badly by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the third period to salvage a point is admirable, but they shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. True, they had an incredible 86 shot attempts to only 37 for the Flyers. True, they outshot the Flyers 46-26. But they also gave up three goals and numerous prime scoring opportunities including four breakaways. Despite the three goals allowed, Igor Shesterkin had to stand on his head to save the game.
Coach Gerard Gallant was clearly not happy with the prime chances that they allowed. “We made some bad mistakes. We didn’t give them a whole lot of chances, but we give them grade A breakaways and two on ones, that’s what really hurt us tonight. I thought we played a pretty good game overall, besides giving them, I dunno, seven or eight, three breakaways, a couple two- on-ones, but it wasn’t for those plays we would have had a perfect game. You can’t win a hockey game playing loose like that.”
The third period comeback was something special, but they also did their utmost to halt the momentum, taking two early penalties in third period after scoring their first goal. A Panarin hooking penalty was a bad call, but Ryan Reaves took a careless high sticking penalty just a minute after they scored their first goal. No matter how you look at it, the Rangers tried their hardest to lose this game.
On the optimistic side of things, the Rangers had absolutely no puck luck. Martin Jones made some excellent stops and did well controlling rebounds, but the Rangers hit posts, crossbars and had numerous prime scoring opportunities stopped. You don’t have 86 shot attempts without some of them being pretty good.
Andrew Copp had the tying goal and spoke about how games like this will help when the playoffs start. “The confidence gained from the way we played the last two periods and being to come back from something like that…is something that is going to happen in the playoffs in my experience. I’ve seen it a lot, so to be able to stop the momentum going the other way and turn it in our favor.”
Copp has been in the playoffs the last four seasons with Winnipeg, playing 34 games.
A loss is never good, but as far as they go, the Rangers showed something in this game. Gallant put it best when asked about the result, “I’m a little torn, but it was a good point, no doubt, being down three nothing.”