PHILADELPHIA – It’s a hat trick for Sean Couturier.
Couturier took home his third straight Bobby Clarke Trophy/MVP honor on Monday night as the Flyers’ 2020-21 season awards were announced.
Ivan Provorov won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers’ best defenseman.
Joel Farabee, who went into Monday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils with the team lead in goals (18), was named winner of the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Award for most improved player, as voted by the Flyers’ players.
James van Riemsdyk was named recipient of the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award (sportsmanship, dedication to hockey on and off the ice). The award is voted upon by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Claude Giroux won the Toyota Cup for accumulating the most “star of the game’’ points. It’s the seventh time he’s earned that honor.
Couturier enjoyed another strong season one year after becoming just the third Flyer in history (Clarke, Dave Poulin the others) to win the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the NHL’s best defensive forward.
Earlier in the day, the PHWA announced the 31 nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to an NHL player who exemplifies sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey. Oskar Lindblom, who battled through Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, has been voted the Flyers’ nominee through voting by the Philadelphia chapter of the PHWA.
Lindblom was a finalist for the honor last year.
>Giroux’s thoughts on season
Prior to the game, Giroux discussed the Flyers’ season, one characterized as both disappointing and frustrating.
The offseason, to put it mildly, should be one of intrigue and uncertainty. Only a handful of players would be considered untouchable.
“A lot of question marks,’’ Giroux said during a pre-game media Zoom call from the Wells Fargo Center. “Before the season started I don’t think anyone thought we would be in this position.
“Very frustrating and confusing. (Last year) we took some steps forward and this year wasn’t the case.’’
On whether the Flyers need to make changes in the offseason to get this team back on track, Giroux predictably deferred to general manager Chuck Fletcher.
“Right now I really haven’t thought about it,’’ Giroux added.
Giroux said one area where the Flyers need to improve is their play on home ice. The Flyers were 11-12-4 at the WFC heading into Monday night’s game.
“I think our home record last year was really good,’’ Giroux said. “This year that wasn’t the case. We could have won a few more home games, got momentum and a chance to make the playoffs.’’
Giroux is hoping the 2021-22 season returns to a bit more of a normal schedule with more practice time.
“We didn’t have a lot of chances to practice and I think last year one of the reasons why we were successful was because of the way we played was automatic,’’ he said. “We had a lot of chances to practice our system and kind of be on the same page.
“Going back to a normal season and not playing nine games in 15 days I think will be better for us.’’
>Praise for Braun
Although Couturier won the Clarke/MVP award and was a deserved winner, coach Alain Vigneault had a worthy candidate of his own.
That player? Justin Braun, who most likely finished second to Provorov in the Ashbee voting.
“I would say a guy like ‘Braun-er’ who plays dependable hockey considering the situation this year, I thought he had a real solid season,’’ Vigneault said.
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere returned to action after serving a two-game suspension. Sam Morin was the odd man out. . .Cam York was scheduled to play in his third NHL game. Vigneault liked what he saw of the rookie in his first two games. “You can tell his skating ability is very solid,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s very smooth on his blades. There’s no doubt he has the ability to skate with the puck. It’s a small sample size but so far a very positive one.’’ . . .It was Military Appreciation Night and the fans, though limited in number, gave an enthusiastic response to the activities.