In a pair of matches between two hot teams, the Philadelphia Flyers came away with two wins to deal a devastating blow to the New York Rangers.
I’m not gonna lie. That felt really good.
Tasked with containing a streaking New York Rangers club this weekend, the Philadelphia Flyers brought the wood (or whatever sticks are made out of now) in earning 5-2 and 5-3 victories on the weekend. The previously hot Rangers were cooled off in a big way, and they also lost Chris Kreider to a broken foot in Friday’s game. The Flyers, meanwhile, have now won six in a row and have surged all the way up to second place (just behind the Washington Capitals) in the Metropolitan Division.
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In a weekend where the Rangers could have closed the gap with the Flyers to a single point if they had won both games, the Flyers instead have left them in their dust, opening up a 9-point cushion over the Blueshirts and creating an 8-point separation between themselves and the current postseason cutoff line.
So, things are looking mighty fine in Flyers Nation right about now. And there were encouraging signs all up and down the lineup this weekend.
Newly acquired Derek Grant was excellent in Sunday’s game, recording a goal and an assist while earning first star honors. Grant logged 15:32 and 14:37 of ice time over the two contests, which bodes well going forward for the Flyers’ top line players who won’t be taxed as much with that kind of support from the lower lines.
Jakub Voracek, as we mentioned on Friday, really stood out as well. Jake picked up six helpers in the two games, and he’s now eclipsed the 50-point mark in six consecutive season for the Flyers. Sean Couturier gutted out Sunday’s game, notching a power play goal in 18:44 of ice time despite being a game-time decision due to illness. And Ivan Provorov played 26:06 in on Sunday, which is a lot, even for him. The guy is a machine.
From Friday’s game to Sunday’s, the Flyers had no let-up. They were all over the Rangers and didn’t give them much room at all until New York managed a pair of third period goals on Sunday to make things mildly interesting.
It’s pretty clear from watching the two games that the Flyers are the better club, particularly when the Rangers are without Kreider and rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin, who you have to believe would have given the Rangers a better chance to win than the ghost of Henrik Lundqvist that the Flyers had their way with on Sunday.
First, the Flyers took a pair of games from the Florida Panthers last month to put a dent in their playoff hopes. Then they added to the misery of the division rival Columbus Blue Jackets by sweeping a home-and-home with them a little over a week ago. Now, by brushing aside the Rangers, the Flyers have passed yet another test. These are hungry, desperate teams that they’re facing. And they keep finding ways to win, tossing aside would-be challengers at every turn of late. They’re well positioned to get back to the playoffs and are currently on pace for their first 100-point season in eight years.
On a related note, it’s time to start banging the drum for head coach Alain Vigneault, who has worked himself into consideration for the Jack Adams Award. We’ll see how much play this gets in the greater hockey media, but I don’t believe that anyone in the league has done a finer job of completely turning things around for a team this year. Vigneault’s impact (with some help from his experienced staff) has been a huge plus for the direction of this team.
The Flyers are off until Wednesday, when they travel to Washington for yet another important division clash. Can they keep the good times rolling and stretch their streak to seven wins in a row? Flyers fans can’t wait to find out. There’s still room on the bandwagon if anyone wants on.