One of the ugliest seasons in the Philadelphia Flyers’ once-proud history came to a conclusion Friday night as a sparse crowd watched them lose to Ottawa, 4-2, at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers, who again faltered in the third period of a winnable game, finished with a 25-46-11 record. They had the second-most losses in franchise history. Only the 2006-07 team (22-48-12) had more.
If you are looking for hope, the Flyers bounced back the next season — thanks to some good trades and free-agent signings — and reached the Eastern Conference final in 2008. They collected 95 points, 39 more than the previous season.
But general manager Chuck Fletcher will have to make a lot of shrewd off-season moves to duplicate that remarkable turnaround.
The Flyers finished with a 14-21-6 home record this season, their lowest total of home wins in a full season since 2006-07, and their second-lowest since 1968-69. They finished 11-25-5 on the road, their second-lowest win total in away games since 1991-92.
“Obviously, no one was satisfied with how this season went,”left winger James van Riemsdyk said. “Definitely disappointing. We kind of talked about it down the stretch — just try to play for pride, play for your teammates, play for the fans. And really make sure we weren’t just mailing it in.”
The Flyers won two of their last five games, including a stunning 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh.
It was a season filled with injuries and illnesses as their players missed a total of 492 man-games, the most since that stat became available in 2007-08.
It was a season in which the Flyers had problems scoring and defending — and had the worst combined special teams in the NHL.
Other than that, it was a wonderful year.
There was a positive. The Flyers frequently played seven rookies down the stretch, and the hope is that their introduction to the NHL will help them down the road.
Here are five observations from Friday:
1. Good for Owen Tippett.
The big right winger has been the definition of snakebitten since being acquired from Florida last month.
But he connected on a left-circle one-timer with 7:27 left in regulation to tie the game at 2-2. It was his fourth goal in 21 games with Philly.
It was also the Flyers’ first five-on-three goal this season.
Earlier in the third, Tippett (goal, assist, three hits) went hard into the net and was prone on the ice for a bit before slowly skating to the bench. He returned a couple minutes later.
But Tippett’s heroics were overshadowed. Brady Tkachuk’s 30th goal, a power-play blast from the right circle with 3:22 to go, put the Senators ahead, 3-2. They added an empty-net goal.
2. The Flyers finished behind the Devils, and that can be a good thing.
With the loss, the Flyers (61 points) finished last in the Metropolitan Division, behind New Jersey (63). The Flyers have the NHL’s fourth-worst record, and can drop to third-worst if Seattle wins its final two games.
The lower you finish, of course, the better your chances in the draft lottery.
3. Rookie Linus Hogberg made a great save. He’s a defenseman.
Hogberg, who was surprisingly effective in a five-game stint late in the season, made a terrific stop during a wild scramble in front of the Flyers’ net midway through the first period.
Goalie Martin Jones and Hogberg made sprawling saves to somehow keep the puck out of the net as a massive pileup ensued. Hogberg had an “even” plus-minus rating in 19:18 and blocked three shots.
Jones, who may have played his final game as a Flyer — he can become an unrestricted free agent — stopped 32 of 35 shots.
Martin Jones and Linus Hogberg with a pair of great saves! pic.twitter.com/5elWOY8yaM
— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 29, 2022
4. JVR finished strong.
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on a rare power-play goal as van Riemsdyk scored on a spin-around shot after putting a pass to himself through his legs with 1:29 left in the first. It was van Riemsdyk’s team-leading 24th goal, one more than the injured Cam Atkinson.
“On that play, what I’m just trying to do is get it the far side of the net just to create some havoc,” said van Riemsdyk, the only Flyer to play in all 82 games this season. “It’s the first time I think it’s gone in for me. I kind of got a nice break on it. I’ll take it.”
JVR had 11 goals in the last 23 games.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 29, 2022
5. The Flyers had another clunker of a second period.
This is not a recording. Maybe it should be.
Ottawa controlled the second period as it outscored the Flyers, 1-0, outshot them, 15-6, and had a huge territorial advantage.
Josh Norris (35th) scored the goal after an Ivan Provorov turnover put the play in motion.
For the season, the Flyers were outscored, 103-71, in the middle session.
Keith Yandle played what is expected to be his final NHL game. He will address the media Saturday. … Provorov had two assists and blocked five shots. … The Flyers had two power-play goals in a game for the first time since Dec. 10 in Vegas. … Travis Konecny finished with a team-high 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists). … Morgan Frost had an assist and collected four points (2-2) over his last five games. … The players will have season-ending interviews with management and the media on Saturday. Fletcher will address the media Tuesday.