NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 12 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Pride will be at stake between the Rangers and Flyers when they meet in the first game on Star Sunday on NBC.
The Flyers were officially eliminated from the playoffs after a tough 5-2 loss on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers, meanwhile, have been out of contention for a while, missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in 15 years.
“I think the poor start is the reason that we’re in this position,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said after Saturday’s game. “Every year it feels like it’s the same story. We need to figure it out…we know we can make the playoffs and be a dangerous team, but we can believe whatever we want. We just have to go out there and make it happen.”
For New York, stopping the Flyers’ six-game winning streak against them — including their three previous meetings this season — will be top of the order. The Flyers haven’t swept the season series since the 1984-85 season.
Philly put up a valiant effort this season after firing the general manager and head coach they began the season with. The Rangers began the season on a rebuilding foot, having brought in David Quinn while selling off several key pieces at the trade deadline.
Despite where both teams find themselves, there won’t be lacking for motivation.
“You want to win hockey games, especially when you’re playing a division rival,” Quinn said.
Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Ed Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Liam McHugh will anchor studio coverage alongside Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.
Confession: usually, I giggle when people make a big deal about faceoffs.
It’s been argued, persuasively, that the impact of FWs (faceoff wins, for you non-fantasy people) is often exaggerated. And I agree with those arguments, as much as I feel like I’m affronting the memory of Rod Brind’Amour.
But sometimes stuff like that can provide a portal to other realizations, like the fact that Ryan O’Reilly is putting in serious work for the Blues.
Yet, Troy Terry might technically be the better choice here, as he had three points (all assists, two of them primary) in this same game.
O’Reilly’s overall work really stood out, however, and it starts with the work in the faceoff circle. He went 23-16 on draws, which is just a ridiculous workload for a regular season game that … honestly, only means so much. (The Blues are pretty comfortably placed as the Central’s third seed, in my opinion.)
Flames – Golden Knights was a tight 2-1 game, in large part because of the goaltending, as the two teams combined for 72 shots on goal.
Fleury didn’t keep his shutout streak active after blanking opponents for two consecutive games, yet “The Flower” only allowed a single goal against the very-much-flammable Calgary offense, making 33 out of 34 saves.
This is as much as weeklong achievement award as anything else, but even if you just keep it to Wednesday, Fleury was excellent.
I’ve made repeated comments about the Golden Knights needing to rest MAF, and I stand by them, but this was impressive stuff.
From MAF to the rare player who’s often tormented him, we have Ovechkin, who scored a goal and assist, and was just one heady Ivan Provorov play from adding another goal.
Ovechkin continues to make history, and delightfully, he didn’t just do his usual “from the office” thing on Wednesday. Granted, he kind of did, as he scored from that basic spot for his goal, but even then, he needed to “reload” his shot rather than ripping a one-timer.
But it was his pass that really sealed the deal, for me anyway. More on Ovechkin in the rest of The Buzzer …
Highlights of the Night
Including that pass, which set up a Tom Wilson goal:
The Blues managed a staggering win by scoring two goals in 12 seconds in the final minute of the third period against the Ducks:
The other highlight of the night comes next.
Defensemen score goals – clunky and otherwise
The headline revolves around two defensemen scoring unexpected goals. Deryk Engelland scored the game-winning goal for the Golden Knights, while Mitch Marner really set the table for Ron Hainsey(!) to score shorthanded (!!).
But, really, it was a night for defensemen scoring goals in general, whether they’re the ones you’d expect or not.
That Golden Knights win against the Flames was all-defensemen goals. Engelland scored, along with a guy you’d expect in Shea Theodore (his 11th of the season), and someone in the middle (Travis Hamonic scored his seventh of 2018-19).
Alexander Edler‘s still a worthy contributor, but you don’t really expect the Canucks veteran to score overtime game-winners. He did so on Wednesday, while a very-much expected Maple Leafs defenseman (Morgan Rielly) helped Toronto at least secure a standings point.
Ovechkin’s Capitals teammate Braden Holtby won his 250th game on Wednesday. One of the exciting things about Holtby and Ovechkin is that they’re young enough to flirt with some big numbers before they’re done, health permitting. Holtby hit 250 wins in just 409 games played, second only to Ken Dryden, who did it in only 381 games.
So, to review, Ovechkin has more 45+ goal seasons than Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux/Mike Bossy, etc., while Holtby’s winning at a rate that only falls short of the author of “The Game.”
Another Canadiens great, Jacques Plante, was third behind Holtby. His name came up again on Wednesday, as Fleury tied Plante with 437 wins, leaving them tied for eighth all-time in NHL history.
WSH 5 – PHI 3
VAN 3 – TOR 2 (OT)
STL 5 – ANA 4
VGK 2 – CG 1