-- The Boston Bruins
would like to treat their first regular-season meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers
like any other game on the schedule.
Unfortunately, however, the team was reminded of their epic seven-game setback against the resilient Flyers on more than one occasion as they made final preparations for Wednesday's game here at the Wells Fargo Center.
It marks the first clash between the Eastern Conference rivals since May 14, 2010 -- the night Philadelphia put the finishing touches on their remarkable comeback in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Not only did the Flyers become the first team in 35 years to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games, but they also rallied from a 3-0 first-period deficit to win the decisive Game 7 showdown in Boston.
"We haven't forgotten," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron
said. "It was a tough way to end the season and they were the team to do it, so the emotion is there for this game. It's a game we need to get back on track with the way things have been going the past couple of games. Yeah, we remember what happened last year."
Not since 1991, when the Calgary Flames
suffered a 5-4 overtime defeat against the Edmonton Oilers
, had a team surrendered a three-goal lead and lost in a Game 7. The New York Islanders
had been the last team to rally from an 0-3 deficit to win a series, in 1975 against the Pittsburgh Penguins
; the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs
are the only other team to do so.
Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn
knows a loss of that magnitude would be difficult for any team to completely wipe from the memory bank.
"I'm sure some guys … I know for me personally, anytime I've had an experience against a team or a certain instance within a game where something happened the previous year, you sort of carry those things with you," Coburn said. "You always try to draw on some motivation along the way. But for me, that was my most exciting NHL playoff experience ever."
Even when his team fell behind 3-0 in the series, Coburn admits hope never felt lost.
"I think we always thought it was possible," he said. "It was just the belief we had in the room. We had put together four-game winning streaks during the course of the season and we know Boston had a good team and was playing well, but we just felt we were coming up short in the games we did lose. We felt we could have won those games. Once we got over that hump (with a 5-4 overtime win in Game 4 in Philadelphia), we were able to get over a mental hurdle. In the playoffs, you have nothing to lose. You just want to try and make the most of it."
Boston coach Claude Julien
would prefer dealing in the present, but knows moments like last spring's playoff collapse don't happen very often. He was prepared for the questions, too.
"We can sit here and make excuses, which would not be the right thing to do, because there are no excuses," Julien said. "But, no doubt, we felt the loss of David Krejci
. We should have found somehow to recover from that and we didn't. We also blew a 3-0 lead in Game 7. So, having said that, those are all things we have to look at in the mirror."
"We haven't forgotten. It was a tough way to end the season and they were the team to do it, so the emotion is there for this game. It's a game we need to get back on track with the way things have been going the past couple of games. Yeah, we remember what happened last year." -- Patrice Bergeron
Krejci dislocated his wrist less than five minutes into Game 3 after being checked by Flyers captain Mike Richards
. Krejci missed the remainder of the playoffs as surgery was needed.
"To have been around the guys during that time was kind of amazing … seeing everything changing, even the shift changes and stuff like that," Flyers forward Jeff Carter
, who was injured and missed the series, told NHL.com. "It was definitely something I'll always remember. The guys were always confident. Even the games we lost, we had chances to win. So we just kept working hard and everybody stayed positive."
Julien felt the Flyers exhibited a lot of character, not only in their playoff series, but throughout the entire playoffs.
"They have guys with skill, good shooters, and good shooters in the back end," Julien said. "They're a team that's very aggressive around the net area and it's a character team. That's what they are. Because what they went through last year … just to get into the playoffs (on the final day of the regular season) and accomplish what they did, took a lot of character."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale