Welcome to the Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers Official DeskSite of the Philadelphia Flyers Flyer Wire Official Facebook of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Twitter of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Instagram of the Philadelphia Flyers Official LinkedIn of the Philadelphia Flyers
 
 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Greenberg: This one was earned

Flyers columnist looks at how this Flyers team truly earned their playoff berth

Wednesday, 04.9.2014 / 2:01 PM ET / News
By Jay Greenberg  - philadelphiaflyers.com
X
Share with your Friends


Greenberg: This one was earned


The Flyers made the playoffs the hard way, harder even than the 2009-10 team, which needed a shootout in Game 82 to squeak through. Exciting as that was, it is easy to forget that club won only five of its last 13 games and almost blew it.

Indeed, those 2009-10 Flyers didn’t finish like these Flyers are finishing and, having been 13-11-1 when they made a coaching change from John Stevens to Peter Laviolette, didn’t have to come as far, either.

In fact, this year’s team rebounded even more impressively than the 2007-08 Flyers, who grandly turned the 56-point 2006-07 disaster into a playoff spot the very next year, clinching in the next-to-last game.

That 2007-08 club rebounded from a 10-game losing streak in February and March to win seven of its last nine, pretty good. But it still started the season 6-1.

The 2013-14 Flyers, who began 1-7, could not afford any 10-game losing streak, not in facing 20 playoff teams (as of the standings today) in the last 29 games. 

After that 6-1 debacle to Boston on January 25 at the Wells Fargo Center left the Flyers on the outside of both the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division and the wild card, they were facing a schedule of Pittsburgh three times, plus St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Jose, Boston and the Rangers each twice. And Craig Berube’s team still has qualified for the post-season with three games to spare.

They skated the gauntlet, did the Flyers, earning at least one point this season against every current 100-point team but Anaheim. They got 18 points out of a possible 34 against these heavyweights, 16 since the beginning of February.

The Flyers did it with extremely reliable goaltending – was there a game this year they lost by one on a clunker goal? – with four lines made up seven 20-goal scorers, with steadfast belief coming out of both Captain Claude Giroux’s mouth and his stick, that they were not that team they appeared to be in October.

The Flyers bounced back with 12 of the regulars with which they missed the playoffs a year ago, with a new system they had to learn without benefit of a training camp, during a compressed schedule that extremely limited their practice days. This was one superior coaching job by a guy running an NHL team for the first time, bringing together a defense that most personnel evaluators around the league didn’t think was good enough to anchor a playoff team.

With better support from a more structured system, Braydon Coburn bounced back from a bad 2013, Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit from slow starts, and Nick Grossmann, the team’s best player in October, from a sub-par January. When at the trade deadline, the Flyers gave Luke Schenn a smart partner in Andrew MacDonald, Schenn became better than a third-pair defenseman and the Flyers play in their own end made a big jump.

The players played like they enjoyed each other’s company, bounced back uncannily from the worst of routs and honored a franchise than now has made the post-season more times in the last 22 years than any team but Detroit.

The best compliment you can give an organization is that you assume it will be in the playoffs. It wasn’t much of an accomplishment when the Flyers began life in an NHL where eight of 12 teams would get in.

And not even worth a thought as Philadelphia was winning two Stanley Cups and reaching seven semifinals in eight years as part of a league where 12-of-18, then later, 16-of-21 clubs would qualify.

It was hugely embarrassing to fall short then. But 14 teams out of 30 are left out now, and last year the Flyers were one of them, so there will be 19,541 at Game One or Game Three next week taking the time to smell the roses, as they should.

The first Flyers team in 1967-68 had to play their last seven games on the road after wind damaged the Spectrum roof and won a division made up of all the newbies. But they beat only one established team – twice Toronto, a non-playoff qualifier that year -- during a 5-7-1 stretch drive.

This year the Flyers had to continue to believe that, despite strong early evidence to the contrary, they could play with the best. And they did. Their 37th playoff spot in 46 seasons was the most difficult and satisfying in franchise history.

FLYERS COMMENT ON MAKING THE PLAYOFFS

You can reach Jay Greenberg at jgreenberg@comcast-spectacor.com

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 53 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 53 8 35 -3 43
W. Simmonds 53 20 16 -7 36
B. Schenn 51 15 15 1 30
S. Gostisbehere 35 9 20 4 29
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
M. Raffl 53 7 7 5 14
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 51 4 9 -8 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 13 14 7 .917 2.65
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
Privacy Policy | AdChoices | California Privacy Rights | Contact Us | Advertise Employment | NHL.com Terms of Use

Philadelphiaflyers.com is the official Web site of the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia Flyers and philadelphiaflyers.com are trademarks of Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.