BY CHRIS DiFRANCESCO, Columnist
PHILADELPHIA- You could almost hear boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer sound off his famous tagline of “Let’s get to rumble,” when watching last night’s Flyers shutout win over the New York Rangers.
For the second straight time, the Flyers made a statement against their division rivals. First it was a 6-0 drubbing in Madison Square Garden, this time it was 2-0 in a sold-out Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia controlled and dominated all aspects of the game. One-on-one battles, forechecking, and how can we forget the fights. All this; however, came in second because more importantly the Flyers pulled within two points of the sixth-seeded Rangers.
“I don’t know if you can say it’s a statement game, but we played well against a team that is playing well and didn’t give them a whole lot of chances,” said captain Mike Richards.
Besides the Carcillo beating of Ranger superstar Marian Gaborik in the second period, Gaborik was held silent the entire night, just as the rest of his New York teammates.
“Good offensive players like [Marian] Gaborik didn’t get a whole lot. It was a good game for us to build confidence and keep the home stand going.”
Winding back to the Carcillo vs. Gaborik beatdown, that fight sparked second period fireworks after a rather sqeeky clean first period. Gaborik dropped his gloves and went after Carcillo during a scrum between both teams. Needless to say, Gaborik didn’t fare well.
For some reason, Rangers head coach John Tortorella thought Carcillo went after his star player on purpose. Obviously, this morning ‘Torts’ is changing his mind.
“I don’t know who was on that line that could help him, but yeah, it was weird. I wasn’t expecting him to drop his gloves and when he did, I was pretty much licking my chops,” Carcillo said.
What was shocking to everybody including the players, none of the other Ranger players went over to help their star scorer. He was left out in the wild with its leader, Carcillo.
“There’s no honor, there’s no honor in that,” Tortorella said of the Gaborik fight. “As I’ve always said, I don’t play the game, I don’t wear the uniform. I don’t want to say too much about it but there’s simply no honor. It’s pretty embarrassing.”
Cheese with that whine, coach?
Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette saw the same thing we saw on the replays.
“I saw a scrum in front of our net. We’re outnumbered. Danny came in and picked somebody off the pile and Gaborik dropped his gloves first,” said Laviolette. “Danny can either get punched or drop his and fight. I think the refs saw it that way, as well because they both got five minutes for fighting.
“Danny Carcillo doesn’t make a habit of going after the other team’s top skilled players.”
Scott Hartnell and league bad boy Sean Avery fought minutes later. That one ended with Avery on the ground after three right hooks to face from Hartnell.
“He wanted to fight,” said Hartnell on his exchange with Avery. I fought him the last game in New York. I was kind of at the end my shift, but I got a few quick rights in at the beginning and he ended up going down.”
There was scoring in this game. The Flyers scored the game’s first goal 15:10 into the first when rookie James van Riemsdyk knocked in his own rebound after being stopped on a breakaway by Henrik Lundqvist.
Chris Pronger sent a picture perfect pass all the up the ice to a streaking JVR and the rookie finished it on a tough effort. Ray Emery also picked up the assist on the goal.
“The puck just kind of squirted out,” JVR said. “I think Prongs saw me coming off the bench. I just got a shot off and kind of whiffed on it. I got the rebound and luckily it went in.”
The next goal, and the last one, came with just three seconds to go in the second frame when Richards collected his 20th on season when his wrist shot hit Ranger defensemen Mike Staal’s skate and past Lundqvist.
“Last couple nights, the other team didn’t have much,” Emery said. “I thought we did a great job. We played physical, we stayed out of the box, as well. … If they get chances, they can bury them. Gaborik and that top line, the boys really shut them down and made those top players play defense which they don’t like to do.”
Emery, who started his third straight game, collected his second shutout of the season stopping all 24 shots.
Overall, the Wachovia Center felt like a playoff game and the players heard it. It could have been because the Rangers were in town or it might have been the way the Flyers played. Old-time hockey was in full effect last night, and it brought right fists with it.
“We usually have pretty good games against the Rangers; we got a big two points and Ray did a helluva job for us,” said Arron Asham, who also had a fight. “These games are fun. Good atmosphere, a few fights. It’s fun hockey.
“It was playoff-style atmosphere out there,” Pronger said. “We were a desperate team. We needed to beat them. Close the gap with them, obviously, with playoffs at stake. It was a game that had a lot of implications.”
Coach Laviolette thought the Flyers played so well, he couldn’t find something to criticize.
“I liked all of it, I really did,” he said. “It’s hard to pull out one thing or just one point. I thought the guys were committed to the way they played the game from the start to the finish.”
The Flyers have won five straight at home. They last did that Dec. 9, 2008 – Jan. 10, 2009 when they won eight straight at the Wach.. Chris Pronger has points in eight of his last nine games (11 points). James van Riemsdyk has at least a point in seven of his last nine games (10 points).
You can find all this and more Flyers news on my official Flyers site, ‘Faceoff with Chris. You can also keep track of my madness on twitter @NHLChrisDiFran