A friend from Philadelphia earlier this week explained to me how their city so identifies with and embraces the Rocky story that Rocky Balboa has become a real person to them. Sylvester Stalone's character is not just an image on the silver screen but a real hero, well deserving of the statue at the Museum of Art.
Well, on this afternoon Philly's favourite sons were less Rocky and more Apollo Creed, coming up against Ivan Drago. The Flyers had an image of excellence entering the ring but the real thing wasn't there when the bell rang and the fight got underway.
The Rangers put them on the ropes early and, unlike Drago, gave them several opportunities to get back into the bout with fights and bad penalties but the Flyers were too punch-drunk to respond and the Rangers skated away with a 7-0 win.
It was not entirely unlike the last 7-0 Sunday win, the blowout of the Caps back in December. Like Washington, Philadelphia came in on a losing streak and was just coming off of a tough loss the night before. But hey, whatever the reason was, the result was a good one as the Rangers were on the winning side. The Washington win opened up a 8-2-2 run so we can only hope that today's touchdown can get the ball rolling.
*As a season ticket holder near me kept yelling: "burn the blueshirts!!!" The Rangers went back to white at home (as they should) and their luck changed. Coincidence? Perhaps. But it was nice to win and very nice to see those classic sweaters again on the Garden ice.
*There really aren't many words to use about Captain Callahan's performance that haven't already been poured upon the gutty guy. It was just spectacular (and it marked the first time I've ever thrown my hat on the ice, so I can cross that off the old bucket list).
*It was a nice contrast to the Flyers captain, who cowardly picked a fight with Dubinsky and then held on for dear life. Nothing says toughness like starting with a guy while wearing a visor. When the leader pulls a Richie Pilon, there is no way the team is going to recover.
*Dubi shouldn't have fought him, because the risk wasn't worth the reward. Up 2-0 at the start of the second period is not the time to give the opponent an emotional boost and fighting a guy wearing glass is hell on the hands.
*Speaking of fights that shouldn't have happened, Brian Boyle was a disgrace. Fighting after a perfectly clean hit, fighting when your team is up 1-0 and fighting a legitimate tough guy all add up to one dumb thing to do. Boyle just got lucky that the Flyers power play had no energy to capitalize on his instigator. I'm all for standing up for your teammates but nonsense like this - it was just a good hit by Shelley - only adds evidence to the anti-fighting litigation.
*That being said, I woulda went wild had Arty Anisimov thrown off the gloves and fought Nik Zherdev during that second period scrum. That would have been spectacular.
*Arty skates in on a two-on-one with a defenseman standing a few feet away (guarding the pass) and blows a perfectly good opportunity to score. Less than five minutes later he gets another break, with no defensemen anywhere near and he scores a suh-weet goal. How about that?
*Mats Zuccarello accounted for the other two Ranger goals, one a simple shot on a two-on-one and the other a one-timer from the slot. He looked like Gaborik should have. Gabby missed a half dozen chances over the afternoon, two of which were head-scratchingly bad. He did get more opportunities than he was getting before the so-called concussion but he blew them just the same. Maybe it was just timing, something that will come back to him as he gets back in the flow. Maybe.
*As awful as
*Sean Avery saw a game-low 8:08 of ice time and should have scored a goal. Avery missed a hit (which was hilarious) and went to the net before being hauled down by Andrej Meszaros. Sure the puck his his leg but it was as he was falling - Meszaros' fault. Ah well, luckily the game didn't come close to coming down to one goal. But still, Avery is still making things happen and he isn't being rewarded. Or perhaps he is as he wasn't benched like Christensen.
*Ruslan Fedotenko is definitely re-finding his pre-injury form - he definitely adds even more ferocity to the team with his forechecking.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Mats Zuccarello - two goals.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 24 saves.
1-Ryan Callahan - four goals and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Arty - Perhaps it was because his old bodyguard was in the arena (Jody Shelley) but Arty was very involved. Zuke scored twice but those were just moments, not minutes. It is just a damn shame Arty didn't throw down with Zherdev.
2-Ryan McDonagh - All due respect to Hank but the goaltender had to make one real save all night. The King looked quite shakey yet again but McDonagh led the defensive corps that kept the puck moving up the ice.
1-Cally - No words needed, just one letter: C.