New York, NY- After suffering a heartbreaking loss Saturday night at the Coliseum the Islanders entered the Garden last with their hopes of making the playoffs almost in shreds. Although the playoffs are looking almost out of reach, a win last night, against the Rangers, could have spun the Islanders' momentum back in their favor and kept them within nine points of the final seed. (Photo Credit: AP/Kathy Kmonicek)
The game started off as what seemed would be a defensive battle, the teams combined for three shots in the first five minutes of play. The Rangers would eventually go on to out shoot the Islanders 11-5 in the period but that would not reflect on the scoreboard. Just 2:!4 into the game the Ranger-Islander rivalry lived up to its hype as the Rangers' Stu Bickel and the Islanders' Michael Haley squared off at center ice and had a go.
The stage was set for an emotional carry over into Saturday morning regardless of the outcome of Friday night's Islanders/Rangers game; a win for the Isles against their biggest rival and top team in the Eastern Conference would keep their playoff hopes alive, but a loss to their number one foe would have been a crushing blow to their confidence and chances.
Fortunately, the orange and blue would come on top with a 4-3 shootout victory with Matt Moulson netting the finally tally in the fourth round.
Tensions were high at the start of the game and Matt Martin decided to ease things up a bit by fighting Stu Bickel just over two minutes into the game. Both got their licks in before Martin swung and missed, falling to the ice to end the fight early. A fair draw would set the tone for how evenly the game would be played.
The one-trick pony enforcer is dying in today's NHL.
No longer is it worth having a guy on the team who only fights and skates five minutes of ice time per game. Instead, the guys who are willing to drop the gloves also have a clue as to what to do with a hockey stick and when the puck is on it.
That leaves Jody Shelley and Tom Sestito practically irrelevant on the Flyers and their pursuit of a successful season.
On and off, the two have been in the line up for the Flyers. And in the rarest, and most unfortunate occasions, the two goons were in the line up together for five times this season. In those five times, the Flyers are 1-3-1.
It’s difficult not to acknowledge the Winter Classic these days.
With the annual outdoor event slowly creeping up on us, the collective mind of the hockey world is obsessed with the outdoor showdown that will be taking place in Philadelphia on January 2nd.
With all the networks gearing up their coverage, Friday night’s game between the Flyers and Rangers had a different tone than a game in late December typical has had in the past.
While all the major networks played up the fact that it was the final meeting prior to the Classic, many forgot to mention that the game was more than just a hype machine for the mega event a little over a week away.
This game also decided who would go into the holiday break with control of first place in the Atlantic Division as well as first place in the Eastern Conference.