We know it is tough sitting back and watching the second round of the playoffs right now.
It’s just been six days into this offseason for the Flyers and they still haven’t completely gotten over their first round loss to the New York Rangers in seven games.
It was a tough way to end what should be considered a memorable season. It’s not often that a team overcomes aterrible start coupled with a coaching change and turns it into a virtuoso performance over the final 65 games of the regular season filled with a franchise record for comebacks, fueled by top tier special teams, a goaltender who found his lost mojo and a captain who is now being recognized as one of the game’s elite with nominations for multiple awards.
It was a season in which Claude Giroux scored on a no look backhander in December and then delivered a miracle finish against the defending Stanley Cup champions in March.
It was a season where Steve Mason had to win a starting job in training camp and finished it by putting together two brilliant performances – a final home game in the playoffs where he acknowledged a crowd chanting his name in-game, and a sensational effort in Game 7 to keep his team playing.
It was a season where Wayne Simmonds established himself among the game’s best power forwards, Sean Couturier established himself as one of the game’s best two-way centers and where Zac Rinaldo established himself as one of the fiercest hitters in the sport.
It came together behind one of the more cohesive locker rooms in recent memory. These guys truly liked each other and liked playing for each other – and specifically playing for their no frills coach, who is a short period of time proved that his style behind the bench is a heck of a lot different than the style with which he played.
With Berube at the helm, the Flyers are headed toward a brighter future. There is a good core of talent in place with some much needed talent in the pipeline, something that was lost on the organization for a period of time.
But the Flyers are close. Real close. You don’t go 6-2-2 in a 10 game stretch in late March and early April against the best teams in the sport while everyone is jockeying for playoff positioning without being right there.
They hung with Boston. They beat Chicago. They swept a weekend series from Pittsburgh, they only lost by a goal to Los Angeles.
Yes, these are small victories in the grand scheme of things and the ultimate prize eluded them again, but as a team continues to grow, it’s those little wins that add up to bigger ones.
They are definitely battle-tested – playing what is akin to playoff hockey from November through April. A record of 18-21-2 might not seem great at first glance, but when looked at more closely and recognized that that’s how they performed against 2014 playoff teams, it tends to stick out a bit.
Yes, the Flyers could play with anyone in 2013-14, and feel that they can flip that record around at the very least in 2014-15.
With a well-liked coach, an elite captain and a burgeoning goaltender with a solid supporting cast and a bright collection of future stars, the Flyers are in good shape entering this offseason.
And when they look back a few years from now, they’ll see where it all began – with the great turnaround of 2013-14.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org