The Flyers battled back from another 2-0 hole, but couldn’t make it all the way back in a 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Saturday’s finale. That’s right, Game 82 is in the rearview and puts a close to the 2018-19 Philadelphia Flyers, a team that started slow enough to give up Jack Hughes hope only to pull it together and leave them with the 10th-best lottery odds.
There’s a guy on Twitter that calls that the sadness, and well damn are the Flyers right smack in the middle of it. Anyways, here are some things we learned from the last game in what was another strange Flyers season.
Guys, I can’t speak for everyone here at BSH —literally they won’t let me, lawyers, etc.— but a sincere thank you to everyone who follows along with us through the season, the offseason, and beyond.
We’re all tied to this crazy, dumb, stupid, and undeniably lovable hockey team the Flyers, and the community of fans that follow along with us in this space is truly tremendous.
Through the highs and lows (remember Sharks opening night?) you —the readers and listeners— are there to support this crazy journey with us and we wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s going to be a wild offseason for the Flyers and we can’t wait for it to get started so buckle up, folks.
Yada yada slow starts and the Flyers
Stop me if you’ve heard this before but another slow start —this one a 2-0 hole a little over 10 minutes in— pretty well doomed the Flyers in this one.
Good NHL teams don’t regularly play from behind this much, hell even the God damn Ottawa Senators don’t play from behind this much and they’re the worst team in the league. Now some of the deficits the Flyers have fallen into in recent weeks have been against some good competition like the Blues, Hurricanes, Stars, and Maple Leafs, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the Flyers are digging themselves at least a two goal hole in nearly every hockey game they play in.
Sean Couturier was aware of the issue, saying that the Flyers played from a two goal hole in something like 30 of 80 games. Well since the Flyers’ assistant captain said that, the Flyers have added two more such games to the list. That’s just unreal.
In a tremendously important offseason for the Flyers organization in general, GM Chuck Fletcher has to find a coach —or intervene himself— and get this darn team to stop stumbling out of the blocks in games. There’s just too much parity in the NHL to constantly be playing from behind, and even as one of the better teams in the league playing from behind, it burned the Flyers far too often this season and is a major reason why they’re on the outside of the playoff picture.
The Fried Man!
Hey another defenseman in the Flyers pipeline made his NHL debut last night! That’s pretty neat and not only did Mark Friedman make his debut but he looked pretty good out there too. The 23-year-old logged 12:33 of ice time in his debut and was credited with one shot though he was on the ice for what would end up being Jordan Steal’s game-winning goal in the second period. That was more or less a broken play on the goal, but Friedman and Robert Hagg ended up on top of each other at the edge of the crease which is never a great sign.
We’ve been waiting a while to see Friedman get some NHL burn and while he had to wait a little longer than Philippe Myers, it’s nice to see the Lehigh Valley standout get his shot even if it was just Game 82 in a lost season. Given how terrible Hagg has been this season, Friedman has a huge chance to make the Flyers next season if and when the organization finally realizes just how bad Hagg is. He doesn’t project as a top pair guy, but he skates well, can move the puck and can play in all situations. He’s not sexy, but he’s Mark. And he’s not Robert Hagg.
Sean Couturier was named the Flyers’ MVP this season and that’s perfectly fitting but the do-it-all pivot should hear his named called for a very different award a little later on the summer.
Couturier potted his 33rd goal of the season on a masterful deflection of a Jake Voracek slap pass to tie things up at 3-3 in the second. As per usual not only did Couturier find the score sheet, but he was dominant possession-wise against a possession dominant team with a Corsi For of 68% (Almost nice!) to go along with a CF relative of 25%. That number really shows the gap between how much Couturier drives play as opposed to his teammates and that’s really been the case for several years now.
The points are coming in bunches for the Flyers’ No. 1 center now, and he caps the season with 76 (33 goals, 43 assists) in 80 games. Had he not missed that pair of games he’d probably be staring at a new career-high in points in addition to the career-high 33 goals. Always respected around the league as a 200-foot player, Couturier now has the point totals to get him the extra recognition for the Selke Trophy, annually given to the NHL’s best defensive forward. Yes it’s for defense, but in order to win this thing you really have to score too. It’s dumb, but that’s the only way to win it unless your name is just Patrice Bergeron.
Oskar Lindblom is good at hockey
Lindblom is going to be such a useful player for a bunch of years, as long as the Flyers don't force him into too large of a role out of necessity. Just let him be a play-driving, good scorer at 5-on-5 complementary middle- sixer for the decade, and be very happy with that.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) April 6, 2019
So I’ll get to the Flyers awards in a second, but two of them hooked up on a phenomenal hockey goal last night. Travis Sanheim started the play with a confident drive down the dasher and pinched past a Hurricanes defender before pulling up with a perfect feed to Lindblom on top of the crease. But the tap-in wasn’t there and forced Lindblom to make a cheeky little move to his backhand and slip it on home.
As you can see it’s just a terrific play all around but it showcases two of —in my opinion— the Flyers’ most improved players this season. Sanheim has been really good and has shown flashes of being everything you’d ever want in a top-four defenseman in today’s NHL. Lindblom just does everything right and has real touch around the net. He doesn’t wow with anything but always have rock solid metrics and makes goal scoring look darn easy.
Like Charlie said in that tweet, the Flyers should be very happy with Lindblom going forward and he figures to rack up 20-goal seasons for a long time given a regular role with the club.
Flyers awards analysis
So the Flyers did their yearly awards before last nights game and we’ll break it all down in this space since this game really sucked.
Winners:— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) April 6, 2019
Class Guy (voted by media): MacDonald
Most Improved (by players): Sanheim
Ashbee (by media): Gudas
Toyota Cup (by 3 Stars points): Hart
Hart (by Flyers fan club): Couturier
Team MVP (by media): Couturier
Have to totally agree with Sanheim as most improved, and given that the players voted on that one that’s a real nice thing for the defender who went through a ton last season as he spent time between the AHL and NHL when he very clearly should have been getting NHL time from the jump. Wouldn’t have minded Lindblom here either given how much he expanded his role through the season and really got better almost game-by-game.
The Ashbee this year is kind of a huge LOL because my God they all were just so bad in spurts. Ivan Provorov turned things around in the second half but mercy was he just unwatchable in stretches and Shayne Gostisbehere has been traded a million times online. We’ve touched on just how bad Hagg has been, and Myers wasn’t around long enough. Sanheim could have been an option here but Radko Gudas was pretty solid through the entire season despite some pitfalls here down the stretch as he’s been anchored to the black hole that is Robert Hagg.
Couturier as MVP is a no-brainer and I loathe to thing of where the Flyers would be without No. 14 in your programs and No. 2 in your hearts. Sorry, but have you seen Carter Hart? Anyways, Coots have been everything and then some of the guy the Flyers drafted way back in the day (Thanks Columbus!) and is coming into his own as one of the NHL’s very best.
Hopefully this won’t be the only hardware that Coots takes home this season, either.