Game 82 was meaningless for the Flyers, but it meant the world to Robert Hagg.
With the emotions from playing his first NHL game starting to sink in, Hagg's voice grew somewhat shaky following Sunday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Hurricanes (see game story).
The native of Sweden thought about the phone call to his family on Saturday after he received word that the Flyers were calling him up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.
Nothing would top those emotions.
"It's a dream come true," Hagg said. "I've been dreaming about this since I was kid. Tears and laughs from both sides on the phone."
A joyful time for the 22-year-old defenseman, who had participated in four Flyers development camps and parts of four AHL seasons with the Phantoms before getting his shot.
In July, Hagg talked about an oblique injury he suffered during the 2015-16 season that resulted in missed playing time and a deteriorated confidence.
"When I came back, I couldn't put it together," he said then. "I don't know what happened. So I had to start all over."
This summer, feeling recuperated and rejuvenated, he set his sights on the Flyers.
"That was the goal for the year," he said Sunday. "I reached it."
In the wee hours of the season, no less.
"Now I know how it feels to be out there," Hagg said. "I know it's Game 82, and the game is probably not the way coaches want it to be played, but I had a lot fun out there.
"The speed is different, the guys are more skilled, stronger on the puck, so you have to be pretty alert."
Hagg played 21:19, doled out a team-high four hits and blocked three shots. He was easy to see, and not because he was wearing No. 48 -- a popular jersey number among fans thanks to Danny Briere. Hagg has good size at 6-foot-2 and a steadiness to his game. He was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere, but also took some shifts with Ivan Provorov.
It appeared to be an audition of sorts, albeit just one game.
"Solid play," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "I thought it was solid, strong play. Confident player. I thought he defended pretty well. It didn't take him very long to settle into the hockey game. He defended well. He moved well. I thought he supports the play really well. He showed real good confidence. So overall, it was a nice start for him."
Hagg, a 2013 draft pick, became the third rookie to make an NHL debut this week for the Flyers, joining Sam Morin and Mike Vecchione. Maybe the Flyers can take some solace in that as they pack up for the offseason with no playoff berth for the third time in the last five seasons (see 10 observations).
"I think Hagger played great tonight," Wayne Simmonds said. "Big Sam got in the other night, he played great. Vex played pretty well the two games he played, too, so we know we're going to have a lot of young guys coming in and I think that'll be a good thing."
Flyers player development coach Kjell Samuelsson and Phantoms assistant coach Kerry Huffman have played an important role in the maturation of the organization's prospects.
Given Hagg's road has been one of greater bumps and distance, he's grateful for both coaches helping him grow.
"Huge part of it," Hagg said. "Especially Kjell, I've been working with Kjell now for three years and he's been on me basically every day to do stuff, so they've been a huge part of it."
Hagg also credited his new NHL teammates with assists.
"They just told me to play my game, go out there and have fun and try to relax as much as I could," he said. "It's Game 82, last game of the year, told me no pressure at all. Try to calm me down. They did a good job, all the guys were really good with me."
He'll see many of them in training camp next fall. The Flyers are expected to have at least two jobs open on defense, and Hagg will be near the forefront of the conversation.
For now, though, he'll soak in this April night.
"It was awesome," he said. "It's a dream come true to become a player in the NHL, play one game -- right now, I want to go out and play many more, but I'll have to wait for next season to see how it goes."
With Hagg, waiting shouldn't be a problem.
Back to the Phantoms
On Monday morning, Hagg and goalie Anthony Stolarz were loaned back to the Phantoms.
The Flyers have played out their string of games, while Lehigh Valley is on the verge of clinching an AHL playoff berth, so the move is far from a surprise. The Phantoms are second in the Atlantic Division and their magic number is down to one point to clinch a playoff berth with three games left to play.