Islanders 4, Flyers 2: Have we reached the acceptance stage yet?

It’s over and it always was. It’s time to move on.

I am sure you are tired of hearing me talk about the playoffs. Honestly, I’ve also exhausted myself. I don’t want to be mentioning it anymore. I want to lock it in a box and not look at it until next season, safely nestled away, somewhere I cannot look at it anymore.

Today’s loss against the Islanders has all-but-mathematically ended the season, and I think that’s fine. Personally, a long vacation from the sport of hockey isn’t the worst idea in the world, don’t you think? Pick a bandwagon team—I’m from Florida, so naturally I have to go with Tampa Bay. Coast along. It’s good to cut your losses and accept. We were all basically there in January, right? Remember how it felt not to worry? Man.

If you have the mental fortitude to read this entire thing, I should add that I have some mean things to say about the men in stripes.

Good afternoon, is everyone ready to do some infuriatingly difficult simple math? I had to get a pen and a piece of paper out to do it. I am not joking, and I wish I was. If you’ve ever read these recaps and thought to yourself, “Man, this broad is really fucking dumb,” I am happy to confirm this for you. I have water in my brain. This has never been more clear to me. Anyway.

The Islanders had a nice scoring chance almost immediately, and in Radko Gudas’s earnest attempt to prevent the goal, he was called for a hooking penalty. I can’t argue with that, as much as I’d like to. At just 0:26, the Flyers went to the penalty kill.

Fortunately for the good fellas, the Islanders power play has been struggling as of late (read: almost the entire season, imagine that) and it is just as lackluster as advertised. They managed a few scoring opportunities, but nothing that Carter Hart couldn’t handle fairly easily, most of their chances coming from not-extremely-worrisome locations on the ice.

Hark! The Flyers take another penalty at 1:45. That seemed unideal, even against a power play that hasn’t been very special. Allow us to take a look at the surely-justified call here.


Pause here, let’s take a minute. Breathe. Do the hee-hoo breaths. It is absolutely beyond reason, and you have every right to be furious. I felt concussed by my own rage. People love to make fun of Philadelphia fans for claiming that the league is biased against them, and yes, we may be quick to start a “refs you suck” chant over the slightest of grievances, but this is truly egregious. There is no justifying this, there is no explaining this, and after witnessing this call, you have no right to argue with Flyers fans who are jamming push-pins into voodoo dolls suspiciously dressed in black-and-white stripes. I feel wronged. We should all feel wronged.

Robert Hagg’s stick was on the ice. It was nowhere near Anders Lee’s face. I don’t care if the guy is bleeding. We all bleed from time-to-time. Get over it, loser. Go talk to your teammate, idiot.

So this is when we are going back to grade school, and doing the math stuff I warned you all about.

There were 41 seconds left on the initial Islanders power play when this 4-minute minor was called. The Islanders would enjoy a short period of 5-on-3 hockey, and then finish it off with a bit over three minutes on the “Hagg” penalty. That’s easy enough. No problem.

However, the Islanders then took a too many men penalty at 2:38. At this point I whipped out a calculator. Seems a little early to be doing that, but you are underestimating the softness of my brain. The game would go to two minutes of 4-on-4 play, and then the Islanders would go back to the power play for 1:07. There. That wasn’t so hard now that I type it out here, but in the moment I felt like I was doing advanced calculus.

Time to move on, alright. Justice would be served for Robert Hagg at 6:39, as a pretty silly goal that ricocheted off the boards and somehow got behind Robin Lehner would be credited to the last player who touched the puck—just so happening to be Hagg. After receiving an undeserved penalty, he would soon after get credit for an undeserved goal. Someone is looking out for us.

The fun basically ended there. The Flyers spent almost the entire rest of the period terribly collapsed in their own zone, looking nothing short of ridiculous and incompetent, and it was painful for me to watch. It seemed nothing short of fate that the Islanders would tie the game before the period was over, despite Carter Hart’s best efforts.

Then, of course, it happened. Brock Nelson got the puck to the back of the net in a dangerous spot, something Hart had no time to anticipate. The game was tied at 14:27. That’s fine, I guess. Whatever.

AFTER ONE: 1-1, shots 14-10 Islanders; Flyers goal scored allegedly by Robert Hagg (6:39), Islanders goal scored by Brock Nelson (14:27)

If you’d hoped that the intermission would do something to compose the Flyers, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news here. That is not what happened. It happened not that way.

The Flyers continued to make many of the same mistakes from the first period, namely all of them. There’s really not much of an excuse here. Sure, they’re tired—that is perfectly understandable. The flu was just going around the locker room, which cannot be fun for anyone. As someone who behaves like I’m on my deathbed whenever I come down with the common cold, I sympathize. Yet this is the front-end of a back-to-back, and if this is how they’re playing today, I really don’t want to picture the slaughter of tomorrow.

It’s safe to say that playoff hopes are over, right? Can we just enjoy the rest of this game without worrying about the high stakes? That would be nice.

This period was pretty boring. The Flyers struggled offensively, and both teams played a more defensive game than in the first, but beyond that, nothing particularly noteworthy took place. The Flyers did not look good. The Islanders looked better. The one saving grace for the good guys was Carter Hart, and isn’t it almost always? He continued over the momentum from the game in Chicago and was giving the best performance of anyone else on the ice, bar none. Man, he doesn’t deserve this.

The go-ahead goal by the Islanders was just inevitable, as they swarmed the Flyers and trapped tired skaters in the zone. Hart was screened effectively, and Nick Leddy took advantage of that at 10:58. I’m not having fun. I’m almost never having fun.

You’d think something would happen in the remaining nine minutes. Shockingly, you’d think wrong. Dumbass.

AFTER TWO: 2-1 Islanders, shots 29-15 Islanders; Islanders goal scored by Nick Leddy (10:58)

After being boarded (with no call, haha) by Matt Martin in the second period and subsequently going down the tunnel for presumably concussion protocol, Sean Couturier was not on the bench to start the third. The injustice is staggering.

Oh, speaking of injustice.

I just touched on this in the first segment of this article, but it needs to be said again that these referees absolutely suck. It’s overwhelming how bad they’ve been today. Are they hungover? Too many spiked seltzers last night? Are they collectively shitting themselves? I don’t even know what to say. Someone is paying them—that has to be it.

Ryan Hartman received this penalty for, uh, rushing the goalie. The biggest problem with that is thus: he didn’t do it. Not only was he shoved into the net, he also didn’t even touch Lehner. The Wells Fargo Center was quick to say, in not so many words, that this was an absurd call, and at least one Flyer by the name of Jake Voracek wholeheartedly agreed. He himself jumped off the bench to tell that ref what for.

Apparently the constructive criticism was not welcomed here. Voracek would be punished for his complaints with an unsportsmanlike penalty, and the Flyers then went to a 5-on-3 penalty kill at 2:16.

This is a goddamn joke. These refs are out of their minds. I don’t even know what to say. Dave Isaac was so kind to inform us that the referees for today’s game are Kendrick Nicholson and Eric Furlatt, and I invite you to do with that information what you will (within reason, of course). Send some complaints to the league about them, in my opinion.

The penalty kill had to come up big here, and that it did, mostly due to the efforts from Radko Gudas to chip it out of the Flyers zone multiple times. Wondrously, the Flyers escaped this one without giving up a goal, but even with so much time remaining in the period, it still felt futile.

Couturier came back to the game. That’s good news. It’s nice to have good news.

The Flyers would finally get their first power play of the game—long overdue and karmic—at 6:12 when Scott Mayfield took a hooking penalty. If you can recall, one of my pleas for the Flyers in today’s preview was that they score on the power play, as that would be a good happenstance and not a bad one. I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest; it’s just how I’ve been programmed. For once, I was wrong to be pessimistic. My bad.

Shayne Gostisbehere was not about to let this power play go wasted. Just four seconds in, his shot from the blue line got in on Lehner, who was probably just surprised to see a shot that early. The Flyers would tie the game at 6:16, and God, wouldn’t it be very stupid if they won?

That actually seemed within reach when Adam Pelech (who?) took down Scott Laughton and earned himself a nice little tripping penalty at 9:08. Keep the momentum flowing, guys, why not just score another one? Do it for me. I care about you, and you should want to make me happy. That’s what love is about.

Well, they didn’t do it. That is also fine, because it is predictable.

I felt in my heart the entire game that even if they had managed to win, or at least come away with a point, the Flyers didn’t really deserve any of it. They played a poor game. They had no energy, no moxie, nothing interesting to speak of. The only player keeping them afloat was their goaltender, and as much as we adore the sweet boy, he is only one man, and he cannot score goals.

Josh Bailey scored to give the Islanders the lead at 16:03.

Then he scored again to give them some extra padding at 17:26.

The last-ditch effort to tie the game was too little, too late. The Flyers pulled Hart for the bonus skater with a hair over two minutes left in the game, but they could not get it done, and I suppose that is fair.

This is the end for the season, and I think we all know it. It’s not official yet. It doesn’t have to be. Time to lock up the unattainable “p” word and hide the key. We’ll get back to that in October. Rest now, The Flyers—you have miles to go before you sleep.

AFTER THREE: 4-2 Islanders, shots 40-25 Islanders; Flyers goal scored by Shayne Gostisbehere (6:16), Islanders goals scored by Josh Bailey (16:03, 17:26)