Flyers give home fans a fittingly strange send off
Closing things out in style(?).
To give credit where it's due, before one of these two teams' matchups all the way back during last season, my pal Bailey Johnson of the Columbus Dispatch called the Flyers vs. Blue Jackets game "a stoppable force meets a moveable object." It was true of those teams then, and somehow it was even more true of the incarnations that met last night to close out the Flyers' season at home. It was two deeply cursed teams meeting for garbage time – a Blue Jackets team that hasn't won a game in regulation since February against a Flyers team that seems perpetually condemned to being slump busters – duking it out to see whose curse is stronger.
And in a lot of ways, the vibes last night were exactly what you would expect from a game at this point in the season for both of these teams. The night started, in the very opening seconds of warmups, with Andrew Peeke absolutley wiping out right in the middle of the Columbus end of the ice. Bonne Jenner took some kind of injury so late that the team was forced to play with only 17 skaters. The Flyers gave up an early 2-0 lead to them anyway.
Now, all of that said, now that we've got our jokes out, this game was messy in a lot of ways, predictable in others, but all in all it wasn't a bad one. The start was not a good one, but despite the disparity at the time on the scoresheet, it never really felt like things were getting out of hand. The Flyers were getting their looks, and they were bound to break through eventually. All told, they came out of this one with a pretty comfortable edge in possession – at 5-on-5, they averaged a score and venue adjusted 54.89 CF% and 52.29 xGF% – as they buckled down and steadily chipped away at that early Columbus edge.
And there were, somewhat quietly, a good few positives to take away from this game.
James van Riemsdyk, in what will perhaps be his final game as a Flyers, hit 300 career goals in the NHL, and in sort of funny fashion – for as much as he's known for his work deflecting pucks in front of the net, this goal came on a bit of a knuckle puck from the perimeter. It's like that sometimes.
Joel Farabee, with his goal, quietly broke his career high in points over a whole season, despite the slow start and streakiness he dealt with earlier in the year. He's emerging again as a driver for his line, and doing it with less veteran support.
Speaking of less veteran support, Owen Tippett has stepped up through much of this season to be more or less The Guy for this team that's been deeply depleted, and it feels fitting for that reason that he was the one who was able to save the fans from having to sit through a shootout, getting the team the overtime win.
Adam Ginning made his NHL debut, and while it wasn't perfect, he did show some nice steadiness and didn't seem to struggle too much with the pace of play at this level. He got a nice little bit of experience to take with him into the offseason, and also just got a nice moment that he was able to share with his family, and we always love to see that.
Now, some of the players that stepped up for last night's win will be part of the team's future over the next few seasons, some won't, that's the way it goes. But all the same, it was nice to see them come together and come away from this game with something to celebrate. Those who were still around to see this one play out certainly deserved that much.
This has been a difficult season, that's probably the understatement of the century, but it's not been without its positives, small as they may have been, just like we saw last night. It's microcosmic, in a way, to get a little sentimental. They certainly didn't cruise to this victory, and they certainly did not make it look easy, but they did get there in the end. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't even always great, but it definitely was... something. And that's your 2022-23 Philadelphia Flyers, baby.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com