It’s tough to believe that there were possibly any more lows to hit.
In a season that has been one disaster after another, usually in the form of franchise-record losing streaks, it seemed that the Flyers had just about checked off every embarrassing way to lose a hockey game.
But there it was — on Sunday night against the 32nd-place Montreal Canadiens — another opportunity to implode, and the Flyers came though in brilliant fashion.
The Flyers were up 3-2 and Montreal’s Chris Wideman took a penalty with one minute left and all the Flyers had to do was play even hockey with a man advantage for 60 seconds to send the sparse crowd at the Wells Fargo Center home happy.
Just 17 seconds later, the Habs had potted a shorthanded goal by Rem Pitlick to tie the game after a number of tactical errors by the Flyers. Overtime followed, and Cole Caufield helped the Canadiens steal a win with a goal 2:10 into the extra session.
As this season goes, the Flyers couldn’t even lose right. They managed to pick up a point in the standings and actually raise their points percentage. You know it’s bad when one of the season’s most embarrassing losses helps you in the standings.
After the game, it sounded like Flyers captain Claude Giroux couldn’t pack his bags fast enough, and who could blame him?
Giroux played his 999th career game in a Flyers uniform and it almost perfectly fit the script of his entire career here. Giroux scored a goal. The Flyers lost despite it. The goal was also Giroux’s 900th point of his career. It’ll be a milestone he’ll remember from a game he’d like to forget.
“I didn’t think I’d be put in a position to make a decision,” Giroux said of his decision to waive his no-trade clause prior to the NHL trade deadline next week. “It’s probably been probably the worst year since I’ve been here. It’s been a tough year.”
And he’s been here for some clunkers. Despite Giroux being a point-per-game player for most of his career, the Flyers have failed to supplement him with pieces to build a championship team, though not for the lack of trying or spending money to do so.
The Flyers spent to the cap ceiling once again and made more than a half-dozen significant moves last offseason to shake things up but find themselves near the bottom of the league. Whether it comes at the trade deadline or in the offseason, Giroux will probably head elsewhere to escape this mess.
“It’s been a long year,” Giroux said as he paused and searched for another way to describe the disappointing season. “I’m not too sure what to say to be honest because it’s not any position I’d want to be in. Obviously there are still some meetings and some things to talk about with the management and we’ll see what the game plan is not only for this year but for the future.”
At least he should get a proper send off.
Giroux will play his 1,000th game on Thursday at home against the Nashville Predators and the following night in Ottawa, which is across the river from where Giroux played junior hockey in Gatineau.
One gets the sense that Thursday’s game against the Nashville Predators in South Philly will resemble more of a funeral than a hockey game. Those in attendance will be paying respects to a good hockey player who deserved a little bit better here. ••