This was not the conclusion Ron Hextall and company envisioned when training camp finished in early October. For the third time in the past five seasons, there will be no playoffs in Philadelphia.
With that, let's delve into what transpired in 2016-17 with 10 observations.
1. Before we get into the season stuff, let's touch on Bryan Bickell. The Hurricanes' forward played his final NHL game, as he announced Saturday he'll be hanging up the skates. This past November, the 31-year-old was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As Bickell was announced in the starting lineup, fans cheered heartily. During a stoppage of play in the first period, the Flyers played a video tribute accompanied by a message read by PA announcer Lou Nolan to commemorate Bickell. Fans gave a standing ovation, while players from both teams stick tapped (see video). Bickell scored in the shootout, too. Awesome job, all the way around.
2. The Flyers finished 39-33-10 with 88 points. Last season, they went 41-27-14 with 96 points. Compared to last season, their goal scoring stayed just about the same and in the bottom 10 of the NHL. The power play, after starting so well, dropped a bit. The penalty kill saw minuscule improvement. The biggest difference turned out to be 2.56 goals against last season compared to 2.82 this season. Last month, Hextall said the Flyers "want to get better every year, get younger every year -- that's the goal." They saw some youth infused from start to finish, but they did not get better. This season was one of regression in many, many ways. For Hextall, no one said it would be easy, right?
3. Claude Giroux went scoreless, meaning he set a new career low for goals in a full season at 14. His previous season worst was 16 in 2009-10. Giroux simply didn't look himself this season -- oftentimes, he blended in and star players typically don't. Last month, Giroux admitted offseason hip and abdominal surgeries took some toll, both mentally and physically. Still, he's only 29 years old. And you know next season, his work ethic will have him in tip-top shape physically. Giroux cares and he fuels on motivation. He'll have plenty this offseason.
4. Wayne Simmonds did his part. His energy was there night in and night out when the team didn't always bring the same. He played all 82 games and nearly matched his career-high 32 goals with 31 this season after potting a marker Sunday. He also represented the franchise splendidly at the All-Star Game, earning the MVP honors. Not that many have doubted this, but this guy is a part of the team's future. A lot left for Simmonds.
5. At development camp in July, Robert Hagg said his goal for the year was to make his NHL debut. Well, he accomplished that on the final day of the regular season. The 22-year-old defenseman was called up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and paired with Shayne Gostisbehere in the Flyers' season finale. He also saw time alongside Ivan Provorov. A nice little audition of sorts for Hagg, who marked the third Flyers rookie to make his NHL debut this week. That at least made things interesting. Hagg looked fine and there's a lot to like with his honest game and 6-foot-2 frame.
6. An obvious positive this season: Provorov. He opened the season as a 19-year-old and finished it as a 20-year-old Barry Ashbee Award winner (Flyers' top defenseman). Provorov played all 82 games and led the Flyers in ice time per game at 21:58 -- a franchise rookie record. He will continue to push the team's rebuild forward by spearheading the group of blueliners.
7. Dale Weise netted his seventh and eighth goals of the season. Nonetheless, Weise was disappointing in Year 1 with the Flyers. He played only 64 games because of some healthy scratches. He posted eight goals, seven assists and 39 penalty minutes. Last season, in just 56 games with the Canadiens (he spent 15 with the Blackhawks), Weise had 14 goals, 12 assists and 22 penalty minutes. And, hey, it wasn't long ago when he was a plus-21 (29 points, 10 goals, 19 assists) in 79 games of 2014-15. After signing a four-year, $9.4 million deal with the Flyers last offseason, he will really have to prove himself in 2017-18.
8. Anthony Stolarz didn't put on the best final act, but he's expected to make a serious case for the big club next season. He stoned a breakaway attempt in overtime and converted 32 saves in the finale. The 23-year-old more than held his own in seven games (four starts) this season, stopping 168 shots of 181 faced. For him to take the next step in 2017-18 would be lovely to see for the Flyers.
9. Gostisbehere made a heck of a play to facilitate Simmonds' tally. Sure, he suffered the proverbial sophomore slump, but he'll be just fine. He did finish the season with eight points in his last eight games, a good confidence boost heading into an important offseason for Gostisbehere, who turns 24 on April 20.
10a. Defensemen and soon-to-be unrestricted free agents Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz played what was more than likely their final games with the Flyers. For Schultz, possibly his final game of a 15-year career. He reflected on it all earlier this week. The Flyers should have at least two jobs open on the blue line come training camp -- which means more youth on its way.
10b. I'm guessing everyone wants Sean Couturier to shoot the puck more?