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April 11, 2015

Flyers season finally comes to an end

After 3-1 loss to Ottawa, attention now turns to Ron Hextall and front office

Game 82 came and went for the Flyers on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center, and they knocked either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Boston Bruins out of the playoffs with a 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. “Winning,” at least in the sense of Charlie Sheen’s public meltdown a few years ago.

Thankfully, there will be no more rehashing the same old subjects on a daily basis, tired talking points that dance around the Flyers’ talent deficiency (at least once you make it past the top line). No more talk of inconsistency against other bottom-feeders, no more talk of road woes, and no more talk of a lack of leadership. Might as well let it all out when you can:

“Against the non-playoff teams I thought we didn’t initiate the play enough,” defenseman Mark Streit said. “We didn’t force our game on the other team, didn’t play aggressive enough, didn’t skate enough. [There were] definitely not enough emotions in those games, and that’s something that’s got to change.”

“We have to be more consistent,” Jake Voracek said. “Especially on the road I think at home we were pretty good, but on the road we had one good game and then we had some bad games. So obviously, if you want to make the playoffs and make a run, you have to be good on the road.”

“[The leadership] has got to get better, but I think the guys that were in that role this year improved and done pretty good job,” Craig Berube said. “They will get better.”

For the Flyers themselves, the game had no direct implications. They finished with the seventh-worst record in the NHL and will therefore have a 6.5 percent chance at landing Connor McDavid on April 18th. Steve Mason’s sloppy puck handling only mattered to fans in Ottawa, Boston, and Pittsburgh.

At least from here, more interesting than the game itself was how there didn’t seem to be a clear message after the game. Berube said that he hasn’t been informed of anything regarding his job status, but he very well might have coached his last game in Philadelphia. As for the players, most talked about improvement but gave no clear roadmap to how they’ll do that.

Ron Hextall may be able to make some minor tweaks to the roster here and there, even though the team’s cap situation still isn’t great. Young players like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier could perhaps take a step forward next year, and someone like Matt Read could bounce back if he’s able to stay healthy. Maybe some of the young defenseman (Morin, Gostisbehere, Sanheim, etc.) come in and bolster the blue line corps.

Perhaps, could, maybe. These are all words that perennial contenders don’t have to bank on, at least until the playoffs start. For the Flyers, there’s no obvious road back to contention. Now that such a trying season is finally over, they can begin to attempt clearing out a path in earnest.

“He should evaluate everything,” Berube said of Hextall. “He’s the general manager. He’s in charge, he should evaluate everything.”