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Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3: So long and goodnight

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They lost this game, for the nostalgic factor.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As we have all been waiting for this entire season, it is finally the end of the Flyers as we know it now, and the finale of a ridiculous and infuriating year. In short: it’s over.

I came into this game fairly optimistic, if a little removed from reality. Obviously I know who these guys are, I know what they’re about, and I generally understand how to curb my expectations accordingly. That doesn’t mean I’m not human; that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings like everybody else.

I don’t want to take a morose tone in this recap. It’s the final game of the season—what would be the point of being angry? I’ve taken a very peaceful approach. Yet, as I watch the Flyers drag their tired, limping bodies across the ice, I can only feel a deep, existential melancholy for this season. Do you remember how it felt at the beginning? I feel the same way every October; trepidation, excitement for what lay beyond, and a deep feeling that the Flyers were going to be good, and it would finally be fun. At what point did that change? I am furious with how things turned out, and that my love was wasted, my hope taken away from me.

Am I being dramatic? Absolutely I am, and what about it? How many times this season has your general disposition suffered because some stupid sport made you sad? Exactly. You cannot judge me, idiot. I am unjudgeable.

My point here is this: this game is a cause for celebration. We have a long offseason to lick our wounds, forget the betrayal that was this season, and move on with our lives. What a blessing that is. We should all have been watching this game with forgiveness in our hearts.

I don’t need to bore you with the obvious details—such as that this was a bad period for the Flyers, which I suspect you (the reader) have already guessed—but if I can say anything about the first period, it is that it felt correct, true, and beyond all else, it felt nostalgic. Were they good? Of course not. Were they consistent, reliable, and the 2018-19 Flyers that we love like our own wayward bastard children? Of course they were.

The first half of the opening period was a little bit of textbook Flyers, a ghost of a memory from when they’d lost their will to live back in January. They were getting woefully out-shot, and as the story typically goes, they looked tired. There’s a valid argument to be made that it’s their job to provide entertainment, and it certainly is, but they’re also human beings. I don’t have it in me to be disappointed.

Even though it looked like a Hurricanes goal was fated from the get-go, the ominous thunderhead of offense took about ten minutes to strike first. Warren Foegele (that is his name, I checked) scored for the bad guys at 9:20, and it opened up the gates for both teams.

The Flyers had a prime opportunity here to respond aggressively to this goal, and it would have been beautifully welcomed, but as I imagine most of us foresaw, it happened not that way. Oh well. I love these hapless children.

Justin Faulk took credit for the next goal, off the rush and in a spot where Carter Hart really couldn’t contend. The Hurricanes added some extra insulation to their early lead at 11:29. God, of course they did, you know? How else was this going to happen?

However, even in places devoid of light, places so grim that it looks like someone placed a saturation filter over the world and cranked it down, there are bright spots. Oskar Lindblom has consistently been one of those for the Flyers since breaking his goalless streak. There is light at the end of this tunnel. He reacted perfectly to the Faulk goal and responded with one of his own not much later at 14:19. My heart began to swell in my chest.

It wouldn’t quite be a Flyers game if they didn’t rip a smile off my face, and that happened fairly quickly after I began daydreaming of a white picket fence future for Lindblom. Teuvo Teravainen rudely interrupted this with another Hurricanes goal at 15:40. Absolutely no goddamn respect, this guy.

So we go down by two in the first. What about it? Pass out some orange slices at intermission.

AFTER ONE: 3-1 Hurricanes, shots 11-5 Hurricanes; Hurricanes goals scored by Warren Foegele (9:20), Justin Faulk (11:29), and Teuvo Teravainen (15:40), Flyers goal scored by Oskar Lindblom (14:19)

A highly unremarkable first period gave way to one that was not-as-unremarkable, what fun! I knew they wouldn’t entirely let me down tonight. Or I didn’t, but who doesn’t love to be proved wrong?

Scoring opened up early in this frame, and it was none other than our good boy Travis Konecny slamming it home at 1:27. The game was not yet over, even if it is in our blood to say that it is the minute we go down a couple goals. No criticism here—it is our right as citizens of these United States. It’s in the Constitution. That’s real and true.

The Flyers looked a whole lot better in the second period. I imagine Scott Gordon had something pretty significant to say to them over intermission, before or during the orange slices, whichever. In any case, they had more energy and played a little smarter and stronger on the puck, and their tired legs looked less so.

Like a gift from a benevolent higher power somewhere out in the cosmos, the Flyers were given the first power play of the night when Dougie Hamilton was called for hooking at 4:59. Was it thrilling to imagine that this could be the final Flyers power play of the season? Oh, absolutely. I cannot say I will miss it terribly.

It’s obviously on brand for this team to see me say something disparaging about the power play and then immediately force me to swallow my words. Whatever! I am happy to do so. I wish they had decided to prove me wrong the entire season! Sean Couturier, the newly-named season MVP, took it upon himself to further solidify that status at 6:07 with a neat little deflection off a Jake Voracek shot. Tie game? Baby, that’s what it goddamn is.

Or it was. After two significantly difficult sprawling saves by Hart, he was gifted with a shot that he just had no chance on, as Jordan Staal took advantage of a little bit of puck luck and got one through at 7:33. There was absolutely no way to anticipate that one. Again: whatever! Shit has a habit of happening sometimes. It is just like that. That is just the way that it is.

It would not be a proper send-off to the Flyers season if the Wells Fargo Center did not erupt in a spirited “refs you suck” chant. It’s a comfort. This one was brought on by a Ryan Hartman penalty (or three) and a missed embellishment call on our good pal Foegele, who scored the first goal of this game. Hartman was initially called for interference, which he took offense to as it was clear Foegele went down far too easily, and his rational response to this was to then cross-check Foegele in full view of the referees.

You cannot do that, I suppose, even if you’re mad on ice for a good reason. Hartman was assessed fourteen minutes worth of penalties: the initial two minutes for interference, then another two for cross-checking, and finally a ten minute game misconduct for acting generally unsportsmanlike. The Hurricanes would go on a four-minute power play.

It would make sense for them to have scored here, but the Flyers seemed to determined to ensure they would not even get close. It’s honorable of them. Like, it’s their job, sure, but after a clunky first period, they seemed to remember that they owed something to the fans showing up, and that’s what it’s all about, you know?

Anyway, sappy stuff over, the Hurricanes could not score here. Seems unideal for them, but who can say? They very well could be on their way to facing the Lightning in the first round. Good luck with that, haha, lmao.

AFTER TWO: 4-3 Hurricanes, shots 27-21 Hurricanes; Flyers goals scored by Travis Konecny (1:27) and Sean Couturier (6:07), Hurricanes goal scored by Jordan Staal (7:33)

I feel bad about not having a lot to say about this period, but as you probably can tell by the scoreboard, there wasn’t a lot going down on paper. It wasn’t boring by any means, but the noteworthy stuff just wasn’t there.

What I can say unequivocally about the final frame of the 2018-19 season is that this is not a team that doesn’t care. With little else to play for except pride, the Flyers battled hard in the third period, bringing offense to the Hurricanes time and time again. Still susceptible to mistakes like anyone else, the Flyers gave their all here, and anyone who can look at this team and think that they don’t give a shit needs to flush their eyes out. Update your prescription. Get some eye drops in there. The Flyers give a shit.

They looked more than capable of tying the game and pushing it to overtime, but the hole they’d fallen into in the first period proved difficult to claw out of, and despite their best efforts here, they could not get one last dignity win in front of the home crowd.

The closest they came was in the final few minutes, when several shots on net looked dangerous, but Curtis McElihinney had the answer for all of them.

Not for nothing, the Flyers out-shot the Hurricanes 9-2 in this period. They wanted this. I wanted it for them, if not for myself, but it was not so. Even after pulling Hart for the extra attacker and making a few last-minute plays, the Hurricanes held onto their lead, and the final game of this season turned out to be a loss.

AFTER THREE: 4-3 Hurricanes, shots 30-29 Flyers

Hey, you made it to the bottom of this dumb recap for this dumb game. Usually I don’t have anything to say here, but right now I do. And by God, you will read it. Or you won’t, whatever you want to do, I guess.

I don’t know, guys. I don’t like getting sincere. It seems rather silly to do so over a sport, especially a sport as ridiculous as hockey—they literally wear knife shoes, come on—but we wouldn’t watch this team if we didn’t love them. I don’t mean “love” in the general sense that we love sports, but I mean it in the way that even when the Flyers were ridiculously awful, even when they were ranked literally last in the league in January, people showed up. People pulled their jerseys on over their gray hoodies and sat down at a bar with a Bud Light in their hands and yelled at the TV. People at home put the games on and pretended they didn’t care about the outcome when they did. I went to a game following a seven-game loss streak, right when we hit rock bottom in the rankings, and that arena was full.

This season didn’t go the way we wanted it to. It certainly didn’t go the way the players wanted it to either. There are a lot of fingers to point and people to blame, but a lot of those people are gone now. The season is over. We have a summer ahead of us that will see a lot of changes coming to this team, as if we hadn’t seen enough in the past few months.

We love to be pessimistic. It’s fun to do so. There’s a sense of camaraderie when the Flyers are bad and we can sit on Twitter and yell about how mad we are with each other, or we can go out with our friends and lament on it, we can send furious text messages during games and we can put our heads in our hands dramatically, but we do these things because we love them. Even when they’re bad. Sometimes especially when they’re bad.

I think a lot of us get flak for being overly-glum. I am guilty of being that way, as are a lot of people, but I like to think we can give them a clean slate for the next season. This was rough. It also was exceedingly frustrating for everyone involved; they had a management overhaul, a new coach, the trade of a core member, and a deficit to overcome that they almost managed. It sucked, but at least it was interesting.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. There are things to look forward to. Sean Couturier is still playing some of his best hockey, Nolan Patrick is emerging as an exciting and creative forward, Travis Sanheim’s excellent defensive play is only going to grow from here, and Carter Hart is going to be a staple on this team for the foreseeable future. Things suck, but they also are good. This playoff push wasn’t really for nothing, as it showed us a glimpse of the team the Flyers can be.

In this offseason, we’re all collectively gonna put down our pitchforks, and we’re gonna practice some optimism, baby. It’s all sunshine from here on out, until it’s not anymore. We’ll cross that bridge if/when we come to it. I know no one is reading this. I can say whatever I want here now. Can anyone tell me what the appeal of pro wrestling is? I really don’t get it. I was seeing a guy for a while who was really into it, and I tried to be open to it, but it really is just beyond my understanding. I mean, different strokes, right, but man. It’s a whole other world to me.