This is it -- the final Flyers Weekly Observations column of the season.
Queue the sad intro music.
But this last go-round does leave us with plenty to chat about, as the Flyers played three eventful games this past week. They fell to the New York Rangers, 4-3, last Sunday at MSG, dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to the New Jersey Devils in Newark on Tuesday and rebounded with a strong 4-2 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon.
Let's take a closer look at the week that was for the Flyers.
• Everybody loves talking about the prospects, especially now that the playoff hunt is over, so let's start there. I thought Sam Morin was very solid Tuesday in New Jersey during his debut. He was just getting his feet wet in the first period and it showed, as he was forced to rush a few plays and then absorbed a couple hits. And that's what you would expect early on from a 21-year-old rookie in his debut. During his first intermission interview with Chris Therien, he readily admitted the game was way faster than anything he experienced at the AHL level. But Morin settled in nicely. You have to like the way he used his size to deny puck carriers and rushes at the blue line. To me, the best play he made was when he denied Taylor Hall a clean breakaway in the second period. Hall can turn on the burners with the best of them, but Morin used his speed to get back and disrupt Hall, not allowing the Devils' star to get off a clean shot. Quite impressive. He almost scored himself when he ripped a one-timer from the slot in the second period, but Jersey goalie Keith Kinkaid had the answer. All in all, a nice showing from Morin to whet the appetite of Flyers fans.
• Say what you want about Steve Mason, but you can't deny these numbers -- 103 wins in 230 games as a Flyer, both third-most in team history in the respective categories behind just Bernie Parent and Ron Hextall. Saturday marked his 200th NHL win, a pretty impressive milestone. Yes, consistency has been an issue over the years, but he's been a pretty damn good goalie in a city that's been starved for one. Remember when he carried the Flyers on his back to the playoffs at the end of last season? That may have been the best stretch of his 10-year career. His honesty in the locker room after games is always refreshing, too. If Saturday's win was indeed his swan song in Philadelphia, Mason left his mark here. Of course, the Flyers' goalie situation is still very much unsettled heading into the summer.
• Another week, another Travis Konecny benching to talk about. After taking a bad tripping penalty in the first period Tuesday against New Jersey, the 20-year-old rookie was benched by Dave Hakstol for the entire second period. I get the need to teach lessons in development, but what is this proving anymore? These are important minutes for Konecny as he continues to grow into a possible prime scoring role next year. It's only natural for a kid to keep thinking about this kind of stuff. I like what CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio said last week when he wrote about Konecny: "Both Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere were Hakstol's poster boys for discipline this season while certain veterans, who committed far more egregious errors, or simply disappeared for games on end, skated off without discipline. No benchings, no cut in ice time." Straight to the point.
• What is it about Kinkaid that makes him like kryptonite to the Flyers? This year against the Flyers, Kinkaid is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, a .967 save percentage and a shutout. Against everyone else, he's got a 5-13-3 record. He's been a red-and-black brick wall against the Flyers this year.
• Valtteri Filppula's shuffle with the puck to end Sunday's playoff-eliminating loss to the Rangers definitely looked odd. But his explanation afterward did make some sense. The Rangers had a wall set up in front of him and he didn't want to just fire into it and have the rejected puck bounce right back to him. That would have been useless and would have wasted even more time. He was just trying to make a play rather than waste time or turn it over. Another thing about that deflating loss at The Garden -- give the Flyers some credit there. They were down 4-1 and could have just rolled over. They fought to the bitter end and brought the house. The Rangers were just better.
• Good to see the refs overturn the goalie interference call on Sean Couturier Saturday after a video review and rightfully give Michael Del Zotto his goal. That one would have been just brutal to not have. Seth Jones, not Couturier, clipped Sergei Bobrovsky. Earlier in the year, the Flyers had a similar goal taken away in Columbus when it was determined Michael Raffl clipped Bobrovsky and it proved costly in that game.
• See the way Ivan Provorov delayed slightly, repositioned the puck to change the angle and then fired away on that second-period goal Saturday against the Jackets? It may not seem like a lot, but that is such a skillful move that can totally throw off both defenders and goaltenders. And the 20-year-old Barry Ashbee Trophy winner makes it look so easy. The goal was eventually given to Couturier Sunday as the puck nicked off Couturier's sweater before going in, but the point stands.
• One final observation -- thanks for reading these all season. The goal with these isn't to force you to agree or disagree with me or shove my viewpoint down your throat. And the goal isn't to just regurgitate stats as anyone can read a stat sheet and do that. The goal is twofold -- to generate compelling conversation about the Flyers and to try and give context and perspective to the things you see and why they're happening. So that's what I try to do here and I appreciate you reading along. There's no more Flyers hockey this season, but, hey, at least the weather is nicer out.