By Jenny Masters and the Associated Press
This was supposed to be the season Flyers fans would feel the Stanley Cup magic.
Which they haven’t enjoyed since 1975.
When Madonna was 16.
She’s 62 now.
As are many Flyers fans who had hope based on last season’s run that ended in the second round of the bubble.
The Flyers won last night and finished this God-awful, pandemic-shortened season out of the playoffs again, 13 points behind the New York Islanders, who hold the last spot in the East Division.
Joel Farabee scored two goals and James van Riemsdyk one to lead the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.
The Flyers finished yet another season without a Stanley Cup — they haven’t won one since consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975 — and this ends as one of the more disheartening ones in franchise history.
A deep postseason run seemed possible when the Flyers broke training camp under second-year coach Alain Vigneault.
The Flyers earned a No. 1 seed in the restart bubble season, won their first playoff series since 2012 and were brimming with young talent that included Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and Carter Hart. The season instead unraveled in March with 11 losses and the Flyers even gave up 15 straight goals to the New York Rangers over two games. A trendy pick to come out of the East Division, the Flyers instead trudged to the finish line.
“Before the season started, I don’t think anybody thought we’d be in this position,” team captain Claude Giroux said before the game. “It’s very frustrating, confusing.”
The Flyers still handed out hardware before the game and named Sean Couturier the team MVP for the third straight season. He became the second Flyer since the inception of the award in 1985 to win it in three consecutive seasons, joining Ron Hextall (1986-89) and Eric Lindros (1993-96).
Well, Vigneault couldn’t really come up with an easy answer before the game when asked his selection for MVP.
“I’d have to give that some deep thought,” he said. “But I would say, I think a guy like (Justin Braun) who plays dependable hockey. Considering the situation this year, I thought he had a real solid season for us.”
Vigneault, who has been openly critical of the regression of the Flyers’ core, general manager Chuck Fletcher and chairman Dave Scott are set to address the media on Tuesday for a state-of-the-franchise address.
The assessment won’t be pretty.
Pressed on what went wrong this season, Vigneault said, “I’ll get into that tomorrow.”
The Devils came into 2021 off a last-place finish in the Metropolitan Division and not much was expected this season. They were a surprise early in coach Lindy Ruff’s first season before New Jersey fell back toward bottom of the standings. Only Buffalo had fewer points out of the East.
There was no juice inside the Wells Fargo Center — though the Flyers and Penn Medicine partnered to make the one-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine available to fans before Monday night’s game. The Flyers said 75 people received COVID-19 vaccines.
Pavel Zacha scored his 17th goal of the season and Janne Kuokkanen added his eighth to give New Jersey a 2-0 lead. The Flyers tied it 2-2 on Farabee’s 19th goal of the year and Couturier’s 18th.