"And like dust in the wind, the season was gone..." >

by Nick Arnold and the Orange & Black Pack Family

Monday, April 29, 2013 --

Saturday April 27th ended in bittersweet fashion. The Flyers completed a four game winning streak, going 6-1-0 in their last seven games. "Stone Cold" Steve Mason stopped 43 of 44 shots, winning his 100th NHL game. Jake Voracek continued to add to his record-breaking season. Jason Akeson scored his first NHL goal in his first game with the Flyers. It was a good ending to a season marred by injuries and inconsistencies - not to mention the fact that we all had to suffer through a lockout before finally getting to see some puck in late January.

Would I have liked being in a better draft position than we currently are in? Absolutely. We've stressed more than enough the importance of drafting one of the top players in this year's class. We've gone in depth about players like Jones and Nurse. But do I wish the Flyers had tanked on purpose to get to that draft pick? Absolutely not.

I, like many of you, have a very huge connection to the Flyers. A win or loss can affect my mood, my demeanor, for days to come. When everything else is going kind of rough, Flyers hockey is there to not only take my mind off of the real world for a few hours, but to connect me with the rest of you as one unit. There's so much anger and tragedy in the world. But when we're at the game or watching on TV, for one 3-hour period we are a family.

So as good as an earlier draft pick would have been, it meant so much more to watch this struggling, beaten and battered team, full of young and untested talent, face adversity and win six of those last seven games. Many will complain and say "Where was this winning streak all season?" For that, I have no answer that will satisfy you. Everyone already knows of the injuries and the games where the Flyers failed to capitalize (see: Flyers losing to the Penguins 5-4 after being up 4-1 in the first period.)

And with that, welcome to the final game review of the season. But this isn't like any other game review; this is YOUR game review, written by YOU. So let's dive in together, shall we?

1st Period

Before the game started, I asked for some predictions and pre-game thoughts. Jason Emerich and Steve Binks stated how they wanted Akeson to show us all something in his NHL debut, and the kid delivered. Less than four minutes into the game, Jason intercepted a pass from Karlsson to set up a semi-breakaway for Giroux. Anderson made the initial stop but the puck bounced right back to Akeson who went top shelf for his first NHL goal. As reader Lindsay Irwin put it, "Giroux kept that play going and Akeson showed he could finish! Love that homeboy chemistry!" 1-0 Good guys.

The rest of the period was all Ottawa as they outshot the Flyers 14-5 in the first. Thus began the Steve Mason show. Greg Corbett thinks Mason looked "a little Hexy-like". I don't know if I agree just yet, but his potential is undeniable. He stopped all 14 shots he faced. The rest of the team didn't look terrible, but they just couldn't seem to generate any offensive scoring chances.

Quote of the Period:

Matt Phillips: "Like an Irish funeral, we can have fun with it and drink away this season."

2nd Period

The second stanza began as the first had ended - with very little offense from the Fly Guys. As Nikki Wilson pointed out, there were too many giveaways and the team looked like they had lost some energy. On the other end of the ice, the Senators were swarming. Unfortunately for them, Mason wasn't having any of it as he robbed them left and right with everything from his glove to his helmet.

This isn't a knock on Bryzgalov, but I am more and more impressed with Mason each game he plays. Not surprisingly, I'm not alone in this mindset. Kara Ess pleads, "With Mason in net I actually feel calm. His puck handling is... very good." Very good is an understatement. The guy has shown flashes of Marty Brodeur in terms of handling the puck. He looks more than comfortable putting himself into the play and controlling the puck around his net.

Melody Mason shared her insights on Steve Mason (no relation I'm guessing, but I'd like to think there is): "Mason really seems to be relishing his change of scenery and opportunity - it shows in his play. " She then went on to add her dislike of Hartnell's mediocre play... 

I don't blame her.

The Flyers shut down the Ottawa powerplay on all five chances throughout the night, but the only Senators goal came shortly after a Rosehill penalty in the 2nd had expired.

When asked for an in-depth and educational analysis of the play, reader Simon Strivelli gave us these words of wisdom to share on the situation: "Fuck, fuck, motherfuck fuck. Motherfuck, motherfuck, motherfuck, fuck." I don't think I could have said it much better myself. 1-1 tie four minutes into period 2.

There was a little bit of worry and anger as Mason got run at by some of the Senators on a scoring chance, but he came out of it unscathed and stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced in the period. The Flyers were able to garner some more pressure and offensive presence but were unable to capitalize. The second tilt ended with the score still tied at one and our boys being outshot 29-15 in the game thus far.

Quote of the Period:

Michael Gallagher: "The boys have been playing well, survived that crucial first 15 against an emotional Revolution team... wait are we talking about the Union?"

3rd Period

Maureen Warney and I had the same thought process as the third period began: "I am just too unhappy about this being the final period of the season." I'm sure many of you had the same feeling too. Not since the 2006-07 season have the Flyers missed the postseason. No Flyers hockey past April just doesn't feel right.

The final stanza of Flyers hockey began with some rough stuff along the boards that ended in ten minute misconducts for Chris Neil and Matt Kassian on Ottawa and Jay Rosehill and Oliver Lauridsen on Philly.

At one point Rosehill and Neil bumped heads (literally) and a sudden feeling of deja vu hit. Where have we seen tension between the Flyers and Senators before? Hmm...

In the end nothing big came of it. In a way it sucks that we didn't get to watch another line brawl or two, but at the same time it's good that we didn't wind up injuring any more of our guys in the process.

Halfway into the period Jake Voracek reminded us why we keep using the lame pun name "Scoracek" for him - by scoring a career-high 22nd goal to break the tie. I believe Kara Ess spoke for all of us when she said, "Voracek just impregnated me".

Much like the rest of the game had been, the final period continued the Steve Mason robbery. He moved post to post. He snagged shots out of the air with his glove. He headbutted a puck away from his cage. Readers Keith Carpenter, AJ Gifford and Chris Packard agreed - he just looks more comfortable in net than Bryz does at times. It's reminiscent of his Calder winning season, and as Chris Watts put it, this may be the only game of the entire season that our goalie stole the win for us.

And with that, the season was over. The Flyers went out with a bang and celebrated going over .500* for the first time all season long. It was a rough ride and it ended too soon for most of us. Who knows what the offseason will bring? It could be quiet, or Homer could blow the team up. Either way it's going to be interesting and exciting to see how the club reacts to their first losing season in six years.

Quote of the Period:

Natalie Schmid: "There is nothing like FLYERS hockey. Everything else pales in comparison. Hoping some O&BP off season updates will fill in the void!"

I want to thank you all for your commentary during the game and for sticking with us during the lockout and this shortened season. It's been a great time as always, and we would be nothing without all of you. Here's to another year of Orange and Black Pack. Thank you very much, and I can't wait for next season.

*For those of you who (sometimes angrily) point out/fight with one another about the meaning of over .500... we are not referring to their win/loss record. Yes, OT and SO losses still count as losses, so technically they had more losses than wins. 

However, when they decided to do away with ties and put in the SO, the ruling on points changed; 2 points for a win, 1 point for making it to OT or SO and losing. Due to this change you can lose and still gain points and hence, the Flyers had 49 points this season when the median was 48. 49 points is above that .500 mark. If you want to argue about it, find something better to do with your time. 

Thank you very much, and enjoy some offseason talk with us starting in the coming days.

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You can follow Nick Arnold on Twitter: @Nick_OandBP

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