PHILADELPHIA – Last season the Flyers won 10 games in a row and became the first team in the 100-year history of the NHL to do so and not make the playoffs.
This season, the Flyers lost 10 in a row (actually 0-5-5) in November (through early December) and made the playoffs.
Oh well, so much for statistics.
But there is one telling point about this season’s accomplishment: The Flyers were left in smoking ruins that first week of December, practically bottoming out in the Metro Division basement.
However, they never gave up.
From that point on, they went 34-15-7, the fourth-best record in the NHL and wound up clinching in their final game of the season.
If that isn’t a measure of character, what is?
Don’t think the Flyers aren’t proud of that never-say-die attitude.
It’s like a page out of that 2010 Boston playoff series, when the Flyers became just the third team in NHL history (at the time) to rally from a 3-0 deficit.
“We always had the goal to be in (the playoffs) and fight for our right to the (Stanley Cup),’’ goaltender Brian Elliott said after Saturday’s playoff-clinching 5-0 win over the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. “We had some struggles, but we knew we weren’t playing bad hockey at that point. We just had to work a little bit harder, little smarter and the bounces would come our way.
“It did that and we needed everybody down the stretch to make it to this point. That’s what I’m proud of this team for.’’
Other Flyers marveled at how they stayed with it for the better part of four months.
Especially Ivan Provorov, who as a rookie last year experienced the bitterness of faltering down the stretch.
“You know last year was very disappointing not to make the playoffs and at the end of the year we knew we needed to play better all year and that’s what we did this year,’’ he said. “We stuck together through the struggles in early November, whole November I guess, and stuck together and played as a team. That’s why we’re here in the playoffs.
“That 10-game losing streak, we didn’t play as bad as it sounds but 10 losses-it is what it is. We stuck with it, we played for each other and it definitely feels great to be in the playoffs.
The Flyers know that 34-15-7 number won’t amount to a pile of beans once the playoffs get underway so it will be like starting over, with an even greater level of commitment needed.
“I think we have to come out the same way we’ve been playing the last few games but also start fresh and try to get the first win in the playoffs,’’ Provorov said.
“I think starting early February we had a 12-game point streak, after that we’ve been playing lots of teams that have been in the playoffs and playing lots of hard games. So, I think the last two months definitely helped us to prepare for the playoffs.’’
Sean Couturier insists the Flyers never lost faith in themselves.
“I don’t think we ever didn’t believe in ourselves,’’ he said. “We knew we had to turn it on and we did. No one panicked, no one blamed anybody, and I think it shows the team atmosphere we have around here. It made us better, going through that stretch, and down the road it just made us a better team.’’
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