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Flyers 4, Devils 2: It’s finally over

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The season is done, everybody drink.

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Flyers concluded their season tonight with a game in Philly against the Devils, a fitting opponent for a hellish season. What happened, who stood out, and where will the team go from here? All that (and the final post game tunes for the near future) below.

What went right?

The Flyers rebounded well from a tough start to take control of the game midway through the first period, and they never quite relinquished that grip. The Devils managed the odd rush attempt here and there, but aside from those leaks Philadelphia did well to contain them. The Flyers produced the majority of their chance production via the rush against a Devils team that foundered along the boards, exerting their will and using their size advantage when it was present.

Puck retrieval was the theme of the night. When the wingers successfully executed the forecheck, things went well and the puck funneled to the net; when they ended up in board battles or lost races on dump-ins, the roster looked significantly worse. Thankfully, those botched entries weren’t very costly, as Brian Elliott stood tall in what could possibly be his final start as a Flyer. This ten-bell stop stands out as one final highlight before the Moose likely departs:

Among other positives, while Cam York looked rough at even strength, he added a much needed injection of movement into the stationary power play with his skating ability and confident puck handling (take notes, Ivan Provorov). Wade Allison drove play, fought hard on the forecheck, and generally sustained his “good NHL player” results. Oh, and there were some nifty goals mixed in there, too.

Joel Farabee’s 19th of the year was a slick finish, but the real creator here is Hayes with the clean pass to the young wing. A beautiful goal via a pretty assist, but it paled in comparison to the apple the captain tallied in the second period to tie the game.

As a Tennesseean used to 95 degree heat, even I got a little sweaty after that one. Was the kick pass intentional? Who can say, but this is Claude Giroux so it was probably done on purpose. At this point, he’s demonstrated his skill enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt.

JVR potted a beauty on the power play to take the lead, thanks to some more fantastic passing by Couturier.

A snipe by Farabee made it 4-2 and gave the 21 year old his 20th goal of the season, making him the youngest Flyer since Eric Lindros to lead the team in goals. The Flyers took the 4-2 victory on the back of a legitimately stellar outing. Where was this when it mattered? Who can say.

Oh, and hey, one more big positive: THE SEASON IS OVER. No more watching this team play uninspired, losing hockey for a few merciful months. Hopefully this will be the year that moves are made and the team will be better next season. What do you mean, you’re getting deja vu?

What could have been better?

The first period swoon wasn’t exactly ideal, with the team conceding two goals from the slot due to puck chasing and whatnot. After settling in, the Flyers looked far better, but collapsing for shifts on a frequent basis just isn’t something that winning teams do.

This wasn’t aided too much via the power play, which was still heavily limited to the perimeter for the vast majority of its deployment and appeared stagnant despite the addition of York (you’re allowed to move when you don’t have the puck, but I don’t know if the Flyers besides Giroux know that). Aside from the aforementioned JVR goal, it appeared to be business as usual for Michel Therrien.

Entries and exits were a bit messier than the ideal, but perhaps more disturbingly the defense looked lost at times against a whimpering Devils roster. Rather than doing much of anything useful, Justin Braun and Cam York coquettishly courted odd man rushes. This wasn’t helped by an obligatory stupid NAK penalty and a questionable slashing call on Scott Laughton, although the Flyers successfully killed both infractions. It was the first bad game out of York, who looked much better in his NHL debut.

Three Big Things

  1. So, Cam York got smoked for the first time in (checks notes) a year or so? The rookie played on the bottom pair with Justin Braun and posted the team’s second worst xGF% at even strength, ahead of only... Justin Braun. Good to get the lumps out of the way, but this might give Chuck Fletcher and his pals in the front office some reason to hesitate on banking next year’s defensive plans on York being NHL ready. If you have the time or ability, go back and watch what York was struggling with and take that knowledge with you for the beginning of next season.
  2. Wade Allison is impressive. The ginger dynamo led the team in even strength xGF% and notched a pair of assists. If Big Red can stay healthy, he’s earned a look for a place on this team next season thanks to churning these types of performances out consistently. What the team thinks of him will largely be illustrated through the moves they make in the middle six this offseason.
  3. This is probably the last time we’ll see a few of these players don the Orange & Black, and while I know there are those who are venomous creatures that think “I hate these rat bastards and losers for failing to make the playoffs and play entertaining hockey, yada yada,” it’s important to appreciate the little things. James van Riemsdyk was productive and provided some of the few moments of joy this season; Shayne Gostisbehere has never quite matched expectations, but he’s responsible for many of the more enjoyable highlights of the past five years; Brian Elliott has been decent enough when healthy and always provided valiant efforts despite his body and age holding him back. It’s time for a long offseason, folks, and it’s best spent hoping for the future rather than being miserable and hating everything. The latter will do nothing but make you feel worse.

Post Game Tunes

The Predators are going to the playoffs, so I’ll urge y’all to lend your support and send off the Flyers’ season with a tune I feel is best enjoyed with the windows down and your engine roaring.

Thank you for following along with us at Broad Street Hockey for another year. Your enthusiasm as a community is always appreciated, and we love you guys for joining us in this cosmically horrifying odyssey known as Flyers hockey. For the final time in the 2020-21 season, good night, good hockey, and as always, go Flyers.