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Flyers Funeral: Red Wings, Empty-Net Goal End Season



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(Photo: AP)

Game 82 has come and gone, and after a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers are officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But let it stand as a testament to the Flyers’ character that Game 82 even mattered in the first place. Some themes that were consistent in postgame interviews: disappointment, pride, being counted out since the start of the season.

And if it wasn’t for a collapse of their own doing, maybe the Flyers wouldn’t have needed this game against Washington that badly. That’s how the cookie crumbles in the NHL.

Flyers offense ends the season cold

After beating New Jersey, 1-0, in their penultimate game of the season, the Flyers again struggled to find the back of the net against Washington. Veteran defenseman Erik Johnson, of all players, scored the Flyers’ only goal on Tuesday night, deflecting a long-range Egor Zamula shot past Charlie Lindgren.

“We had a ton of chances in the second,” Johnson said. “We were swarming in their end and they didn’t have an answer for us, and we just couldn’t beat him.”

Morgan Frost, Bobby Brink, and Cam Atkinson were all benched early in the second period, so they weren’t options to help facilitate offense.

Atkinson’s offensive struggles have been well-documented, and frankly, his playing in this game at all was an abject failure. For the Flyers, it would have been more beneficial to get a longer look at players like Denis Gurianov or Olle Lycksell.

They got 4:04 of Atkinson instead.

Ersson finishes strong

Ultimately, goaltending is one of the main reasons why the Flyers struggled so greatly at the end of the season.

The silver lining heading into the summer? Rookie Sam Ersson finished his first full year in the NHL very strongly.

Ersson’s last three starts for the Flyers: 2-0-1 with a .967 save percentage. For a guy who was crucified by Flyers fans for that eight-game streak, his bounce-back effort was truly remarkable. You could argue Ersson’s efforts were the only reason Game 82 mattered after that stretch.

“We did a lot of good things this year,” Ersson reflected. “Obviously, I think, we came up short. There’s a lot of things we can be proud of as a group.

“We gave it a shot. We did everything we could to push for the playoffs.”

Final Flyers thoughts from Tuesday night

Ultimately, you don’t want to end the season losing on an empty-net goal, but the Flyers made their own bed. The end result was inconsequential anyway, as Detroit had taken Montreal to overtime in their game after scoring the tying goal with seconds left on the clock. That alone eliminated the Flyers then and there.

Sean Couturier ended the season with an assist in 18:27, which are both good things for a player who struggled to get on the ice and do anything productive when he did.

On the other hand, it’s bad news for Frost and Brink that they were benched in a game where their skillsets were needed. Brink is a free agent in the summer, while Frost is eligible for an extension on July 1.

If John Tortorella isn’t convinced by now that these two players are parts of the Flyers’ future, he never will be.

This offseason will tell all.

For more Flyers news and up-to-date coverage, visit Philly Hockey Now and like our Facebook page.
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