PHILADELPHIA – All through this up and down season the Flyers were about as predictable as the weather.
So why should Friday night’s season finale be any different?
Facing their out-of-the-playoff counterpart Ottawa Senators, the Flyers dragged the 82nd game into the final 20 minutes tied 1-1.
Then, rather predictably, the Flyers exchanged goals before surrendered a back-breaker with 3:22 to play and went on to a 4-2 loss at the Wells Fargo Center. Brady Tkachuk scored on a power play for the deciding goal while Linus Hogberg sat in the penalty box. The Senators put it away with an empty net goal with 1:45 to play.
Philadelphia players had talked about wanting to finish the season on a positive note but such was not the case.
The Flyers finish their second straight season out of the playoffs, the first time that’s happened since 1992-94.
On Saturday, the players will pack up their gear and head out for the start of a long offseason after completing exit interviews with the coaching staff and management.
Due to all the turmoil this season, the players probably won’t be getting an earful for their last-place finish in the Metro Division simply because they had so many kids in the lineup at the end of the season
“We never really had many games with a full team,’’ James van Riemsdyk said. “Injuries happened. The guys that were in there probably need to do a better job of adjusting, adapting and responding better.’’
Interim coach Mike Yeo has been trying to get the Flyers to play better fundamental hockey throughout the season but the lessons often weren’t put into practice.
“It (Friday’s loss) sort of sums up where we’ve had games similar to that,’’ he said. “You battle, scratch and claw. The power play gets on the board and scores a big goal for us. But we find a way to let it slip away at the end. Disappointing.’’
Yeo hopes to get another crack at this next year but it appears some major personnel decisions have to be made.
“I thought we played all right tonight,’’ goaltender Martin Jones said. “It’s the way it’s gone for us this year, it’s been tough. But we battled hard.’’
A goal by Travis Hamonic at 1:51 of the third period put the Senators in front but the Flyers cashed in on a five-on-three power-play goal by Owen Tippett at 12:33 to tie it at 2-2.
An Ivan Provorov turnover led to Ottawa’s tying goal (1-1) at 11:51 of the second period. Provorov circled behind his own net, saw the puck dribble off his stick and then be sent by Tkachuk to Josh Norris for a shot past Jones.
The Flyers jumped out in front on van Riemsdyk’s power-play goal with 1:29 left in the first period. JVR took control just off the post, slid a backhand pass between his legs to himself and sent a forehand shot into the net.
It was van Riemsdyk’s 24th goal of the season, moving him past Cam Atkinson into the team lead.
>Power play a major culprit
The Flyers finished dead last in the NHL in power-play percentage and that was a big factor in their demise. They finished at just above 12 percent, which is historically bad.
JVR was asked what the problem was.
“Overall, it’s never good to finish last in a category like that,’’ he said. “It’s a big difference if you finish in the top 10 or dead last and that affected our season.’’
>Praise for Yandle
Keith Yandle, an impending free agent, has probably played his last game as a Flyer. Jones and others had praise for the veteran defenseman, whose ironman streak ended at 989 games this season.
“He’s an unbelievable teammate, anybody who has played with him,’’ Jones said. “He’s had an incredible career. It’s been really fun getting to know him this year. Hopefully I’ll pass paths with him again.’’
>Flyers’ award winners
Prior to Friday night’s game, the Flyers announced their season award winners.
>*Bobby Clarke Trophy (most valuable player)*: Cam Atkinson.
Atkinson was set to finish second in team scoring with 23 goals/50 points. His 0.68 points per game led the Flyers through 81 games. He paced the team in shorthanded goals with three.
>*Barry Ashbee Trophy (outstanding defenseman)*: Travis Sanheim.
His first Ashbee win. Led all defensemen with 31 points heading into season finale. His plus-10 led the entire team. Averaged a career-high 22:59 of time.
>*Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (most improved player)*: Sanheim.
Selected in a vote by his teammates. His plus-10 was a plus-32 improvement over last season. Also won the award after the 2018-19 season.
>*Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award*: Atkinson.
The Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association voted Atkinson for the award, presented annually to the player who best illustrates character, dignity and respect for the sport both on and off the ice.
>*Gene Hart Memorial Award (most heart)*: Voted by the Flyers Fan Club. MacEwen’s three goals/nine points were career highs. He also doubled his career games played.
>*Toyota Cup (most “star of the game’’ points)*: Carter Hart.
Hart was selected first star four time and second/third three times each for 32 points. It’s his second Toyota Cup win.
Sanheim said the Ashbee Trophy means a lot to him.
“Obviously a huge honor,” Sanheim said. “I wanted to win it at some point in my career. I’m grateful for winning this trophy.”