After the highly anticipated contest between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL’s fifth annual Winter Classic, the Rangers continued the success they had in December while the Flyers are still looking to turn it around.
The Rangers’ 3-2 victory on Monday marks the fourth time the visiting team has won in the Winter Classic, and the Rangers have won seven of their last 10 games.
The Flyers have won five of their last 10 games, and there is a handful of players who need to step up in order for the Flyers to remain a dominant force in the East.
The Flyers will take away some encouraging moments from the Winter Classic loss, but the defeat further exposed the weak areas that need to be fixed in the second half of the season.
Since returning on Dec. 21 from a concussion, Claude Giroux has been on fire. But that’s nothing new for the 23-year-old scoring machine.
Giroux has seven points in his last five games, including a goal in Monday’s Winter Classic. In fact, there have only been eight games all season in which Giroux played and did not record a goal or assist.
A healthy Giroux means good things for the Flyers. His dogged forecheck and uncanny ability to make plays will keep the Flyers in contention all season long.
While Ilya Bryzgalov may have been right when he said Sergei Bobrovsky’s start in the Winter Classic would give the Flyers a better chance to win, it didn’t happen.
Bryzgalov had an impressive seven-game winning streak in December, and he started the season out strong, winning his first three starts. But his five-game losing streak in October and his current four-game losing streak have raised eyebrows in Philadelphia.
Sergei Bobrovsky has filled in nicely, starting 12 games and winning eight. While he made 30 saves in the Winter Classic, it wasn’t enough to keep the Flyers on top.
The Flyers organization will have decisions to make when it comes to solidifying a consistent goaltender. Thus far, Bryzgalov has been streaky and inconsistent, but is Bobrovsky strong enough to fill in when needed?
Throughout Monday’s game, the Flyers had a solid forecheck and created numerous scoring chances, but they just weren’t good enough against Henrik Lundqvist. They put 35 shots on Lundqvist, and he stopped all but two.
Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere generated extra opportunities by getting to the puck first in the offensive zone.
The Flyers need to continue applying offensive pressure and using their speed to their advantage in the second half of the season.
Jaromir Jagr left the game a minute into the second period after possibly aggravating a leg injury he suffered in the first period. While the injury doesn’t seem too serious, the Flyers have counted on Jagr’s success and will need him back as soon as possible.
The 39-year-old legend is a huge part of the Flyers success this season. His consistency and instant chemistry with linemates Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell have kept the Flyers competitive all season long.
In the first period of Monday’s game, Jagr broke past the Rangers defense for a breakaway opportunity, but was shut down by Henrik Lundqvist at the last second.