Nothing good happened last night.
The Rangers, as the hype reminded us, traveled into the belly of the beast last night, America's worst civilized city, where everyone is mean. The city where Santa Claus is booed, babies drink Miller Lite, and projectile vomit is used as a form of assault. And, like so many visitors to Philly, we got our asses handed to us.
We actually started off playing a pretty solid offensive game, getting outshot badly (8-2 in the first) but spending a great deal of time in the Flyers' end. Unfortunately, the "not actually getting scoring chances" thing continued throughout, and the "time spent in the Philly zone" thing didn't. After Dubinsky made it 1-0 early in the second, the Flyers started scoring and didn't stop.
The four consecutive Flyer goals that were the only other goal lights we'd see were actually a nice sample platter of everything that went wrong last night. Like the four sons of Passover fame, each of these four goals represents some aspect of the whole abomination that was last night's game. Their first goal came off a gorgeous pass from Claude Giroux, through like 400 Rangers, right onto the tape of Mike Richards's stick, 2 feet in front of Lundqvist. The Rangers were somewhat at fault for crowding Giroux and leaving Richards alone, but you also have to be impressed by that pass. The Flyers, when they weren't committing felonies, played a solid hockey game.
The second goal came entirely at the fault of the officials, Marc Joannette and Justin St. Pierre, who failed to call a blatant hook on the newly bald Scott Hartnell behind the Ranger net. Hartnell pulled Michael Del Zotto off the puck, which trickled right onto the stick of Blair Betts (remember him?), who put it home. These officials...wow. I could write a paper or two about this game. It would probably cite this article at least once. But here's the list off the top of my head:
--Halfway through the first period, Staal comes in for a perfectly clean hit on Zherdev (I think it was Zherdev). At the last minute, Zherdev turns his head so he's facing the boards on impact. So it magically becomes "boarding." Flyers announcers proceed to explain what a smart play Zherdev made by turning his head, knowing it was too late for Staal to change what he was doing. So how is that a penalty?
--The aforementioned non-call on the hook that led directly to the Flyers' second goal.
--Halfway through the second, Jody Shelley (remember him, too?) elbows Boogaard. No call. As Boogard is turning around, his stick touches Shelley's side. Really, that's all it was. Go find a video of it. 2 minutes on Boogaard for "hooking." Not even fucking close. While waiting for the delayed penalty to be called, Shelley punched Boogaard in the back of the head. No call. Net result: Flyers PP.
--The one everyone is talking about: Carcillo's completely uncalled, completely uncalled-for headshot on Ruslan Fedotenko. Fedo's got his head down, Carcillo leaves his feet and elbows him in the head, sending him down to the ice. Textbook headshot. Not only was there no misconduct, there was no penalty whatsoever! When Fedotenko asked about it, Joannette helpfully replied "don't duck." Go read the whole Puck Daddy article I just linked you to - Wyshynski will give you the unbiased account.
And many more. Those are the highlights. Go watch this game for exactly what is wrong with the NHL. Fuck the NHL for not caring enough to fix this - when there's no accountability, shit like this will keep happening. This time, Fedotenko didn't get injured. So, now what - Carcillo gets a 1-game suspension, which doesn't affect the outcome of the actual game he was in (where in he got NO PENALTIES for the incident), and then he comes back and does it again. This is on Colon Campbell to fix. Full stop.
The third Flyer goal came on the third problem of the night for the Rangers: it was a soft goal let in by the King. Nikolai Zherdev (remember him, too, too?) just kinda shoved a bad angle shot at Lundqvist, who stopped it with his body before it kept traveling up, over his shoulder, and into the net. Hank just cold didn't have a great game last night. To co-opt and mangle a phrase I am pretty sure I read in some Larry Brooks column last season: Lundqvist was not blameless but not to be blamed. On a night where nothing else was going right, he could certainly have looked sharper and kept us in it longer. But it probably wouldn't have mattered.
Which brings us to the icing on last night's shit-cake: the Rangers kinda sucked. Pronger's slapshot in the third period, the only goal for either team that didn't occur in the second, went through a screen of a couple of Flyers who notably did not find their asses knocked to the ice before it made its way to the twine. Yes, there were awful, awful calls. And yes, the Rangers did sometime stand up for each other physically. Of note, after Carcillo's Headshotenko, Boogaard went after him. Carcillo (who, it is very important to remember, is a fucking pussy) skated the hell away from the 6'7", 265-lb. punching machine, like a fucking pussy. So, Prust said "OK, I'll do it" and proceeded to destroy Carcillo in the most one-sided fight on ice since Sidney Crosby vs. Boris Valabik's nutsack. So that was fun.
But as gratifying as that was (extremely), it wasn't the full physical response we needed. It was like the Rangers just couldn't finish their jobs last night. When we were in front of Bobbaryshnikov's net, we got cleared all the way to the ice. When they were in the King's court, they got shoved aside and stayed standing. Even when we spent a long time in their zone, or had extended PP time, we couldn't figure out how to put the puck on net. We just looked shitty. We should have followed the old "if you're gonna do the time, you might as well do the crime" philosophy and started running people over in the middle of the second, when the game was close and it was clear that Joannette and St. Pierre were planning on casting lots for the night. The message we sent physically was "Carcillo's a fucking pussy, but you guys can get away with this shit anyway," when it could have been "you cannot do this."
And so, at the end of the day, while neither the King's day in peasant clothing nor the confused couple of awful officials did us any favors, 'twas once again the Rangers who killed themselves. Ugh. Here's to forgetting last night ever happened.
In that vein, the good news is that we get right back on the horse tonight, with an opportunity to kick the Devils while they're down! Notably absent from tonight's matchup with minor injuries: Ryan Callahan and Martin Brodeur, both of whom are somewhat banged up but should return to their respective lineups shortly. I'm very disappointed about both of those things, but they don't make me too much less thirsty for blood tonight. Fuck the Devils; Let's Go Rangers!