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BEST OF… A look at the best plays and moments of 2016-17

Goals, assists, hits and special events that highlighted the 50th Anniversary Season

by Jay Greenberg @NHLFlyers

Play -- Brayden Schenn dropped the puck to Ivan Provorov, took a return pass, pulled to his backhand, and scored around goaltender Jimmy Howard, giving the Flyers a 1-0 overtime victory on December 11 in Detroit.

Video: PHI@DET: Schenn uses great deke to finish for OT win

Wins - The above victory, the Flyers' ninth straight, was on their last visit ever to Joe Louis Arena, a place where they won only three games from 1988 until it closed at the end of the season. Steve Mason's 2-0 shutout of the Rangers on January 25 on third-period goals by Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds was only the fourth Flyers triumph in their last 21 visits (including playoffs) to Madison Square Garden.

Moment - Valtteri Filppula scored with 9:22 remaining in his first Flyer game to tie Florida in a March 2 contest Philadelphia won, 2-1, on shootout goal by Voracek.

Video: FLA@PHI: Filppula tips home goal in debut with Flyers

Power Move - Michael Raffl drove to the net, leaned off defenseman Mattis Ekholm, and had enough room to go around goalie Juuse Saros and provide the winning goal in a 4-2 December 4 victory in Nashville.

Shots - By Jake Voracek from the top of the circle to beat the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist in a 5-2 loss on January 4 at Wells Fargo Center… You don't see many goals anymore from that far out cleanly beat unscreened goaltenders, particularly one of the best. Travis Konecny circled off the left boards to just below the right faceoff dot and buried the puck under the crossbar on Sergei Bobrovsky's short side to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead in a 5-3 home loss to Columbus on March 25. Ivan Provorov did much the same on Cam Ward to open the scoring in a 4-3 overtime win against Carolina on March 19.

Steals - By Wayne Simmonds from Brent Burns, the Norris Trophy favorite, in overtime for a breakaway winner against the Sharks, 2-1, on February 11. Jake Voracek took the puck from All Star John Tavares just inside the blueline to feed Shayne Gostisbehere, who circled the net and fed Claude Giroux's overtime winner, 3-2, on January 22 at Brooklyn.

Saves -

a. Right pad by Mason on Tavares's overtime breakaway, just before that Giroux winner against the Islanders. 

b. Glove by Mason on Aleksander Barkov off a cross-ice feed to the inner edge of the circle in the final 20 seconds to force overtime of the March 2 shootout win over Florida.

Goaltended Game - Flyers managed just 21 shots while Mason stopped 45 of 47 and three more in the shootout before Shayne Gostisbehere's goal beat Boston 3-2 on November 29.

Individual Game by a Skater - Brayden Schenn had the only Flyer hat trick of the season in a come-from-behind 4-2 Wells Fargo Center win over Dallas on December 10.

Video: DAL@PHI: Schenn records hatty in 4-2 win vs. Stars

Hot Streak - In that win over the Stars, Voracek enjoyed his second consecutive 4-point game.

Defenseman - Provorov. Playing most of the season as a teenager against men, never showed any sign of fatigue in averaging 21:49 of ice time over all 82 games. His respectable 30 points and minus-seven for a team with a minus-17 point differential do not come close to measuring a rookie year of almost impossible steadiness by a defenseman of such little NHL experience. More offensively assertive as the season went along, Provorov is already the anchor defenseman that few teams have won a Cup without.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: Congratulations to Ivan Provorov, winner of the Barry Ashbee Trophy!

 Flyer - Simmonds. Playing with multiple centers on both first and second lines, he never went more than four games without a point. Fifteen of his team-leading 30 goals were at even strength, an area where the team struggled mightily.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: Once again congratulations to Wayne Simmonds, winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy, for Team MVP!

Improvement - The Flyers, still holding the NHL's worst record in shootouts (40-75) since the inception in 2004-05, were 7-5 this season.

Improvement in a Player - Radko Gudas. More efficient with the puck and, after serving a six-game suspension to start the season for a concussion-causing hit on the Bruins' Austin Czarnik, Gudas became less dangerous to opponents and his own team.

Turnaround - A healthy scratch in stretches totaling 15 games, Dale Weise had 10 points in the final 13 contests and was a screening and scoring key to Schenn and Sean Couturier playing the hungriest, most confident, hockey of their careers.

Addition - Filppula's eight points in his 20 Flyer games do not reflect what his presence did to lengthen the lineup. Thereafter, the team had three scoring lines.

Gestures - Flyer fans gave Bryan Bickell, playing the final game of his career following a diagnosis of Multiple Scleroris, a standing ovation when he came onto the ice in Game 82. We have covered all sports for 43 years and we have never been more moved by a moment than by Bickell's goal in the shootout. The unadulterated joy on the Hurricanes' bench said it all about how they felt about him.

After 396 hats were thrown onto the ice in mistaken belief that Wayne Simmonds had scored his third goal against Colorado on February 29, Voracek, the "bad guy" whose pass for Simmonds went in off François Beauchemin, bought 396 caps-$8,000 worth-to gift children at local hospitals.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: Remember @simmonds17's almost hat trick? @jachobe has bought 396 hats to donate to local children's hospitals, one for every hat thrown.

Stats Indicating The Flyers, In an Uneven Season, Still Made Progress - After a 4-1 loss to the Devils on January 21, they had given up the most goals in the league. In the 35 games thereafter, Philadelphia had the fifth-best goals against in the NHL - 2.34. The Flyers problem became scoring but, boosted considerably not only by Filppula, but the callup of Jordan Weal, they averaged 2.92 goals per game over the final 20 games. 

Projected over the entire season, this would have put them in the top 10 in the league.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: To the best fans in the game, we thank you

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