The New York Rangers have remained a dominant force in the NHL over the last decade on the strength of their defense, but the defenders have consistently let their team down during the 2017-18 season. This is a major problem because goalie Henrik Lundqvist is no longer able to consistently bail out his teammates with amazing saves. The poor defense was on full display when the Rangers faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, February 18.
New York and Philadelphia played one of the wildest first periods in the NHL this season on Sunday. The intense rivalry between these two clubs led to three fights in the first 12 minutes of the game. The rough play was not the only thing exciting happening in this game. The combination of great offense and poor defense helped both teams score three goals in the first period.
The exciting offensive action continued after the first intermission. It only took two minutes for the Flyers to take a 4-3 lead with a goal by Nolan Patrick. The Rangers responded with a game-tying goal from Peter Hollan four minutes later. The game remained relatively calm until Philadelphia regained the lead on Travis Konecny’s 15th goal of the season.
While the game stayed extremely tense throughout the third period, both teams were able to avoid any careless penalties. The Rangers did not have a problem creating scoring chances, but they just could not get the puck past Alex Lyon. New York’s chances of a comeback took a big hit when Cluade Giroux scored with just over 10 minutes left to play. Philadelphia put the game completely out of reach three minutes later on Jori Lehtera’s first goal of the season. The final minutes were quiet as the Flyers cruised to a 7-4 win.
The New York Rangers have to be extremely concerned about the performance of their star goalie. While Henrik Lundqvist started off the season in great form, he has struggled mightily recently. The defense certainly is not helping, but Lundqvist has now given up at least three goals in four straight games. Since they do not have a lot of skill on offense, the Rangers need their defense and goalie to step up down the stretch if they want to make the playoffs. They will get a chance to end their current four-game losing streak when they play the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, February 22.