The Flyers weren't supposed to make the playoffs until next season.
When they did, they were supposed to get swept.
But the 2015-16 Flyers never bought into any of that.
"No one really believed in us since day one of the regular season," Brayden Schenn said Sunday afternoon, a few minutes after leaving the ice to a standing ovation from fans following a 1-0 Game 6 loss. "We fell behind early but clawed our way back in the playoffs against the best team in the league."
The Flyers trailed in their playoff series with the Capitals 3-0, having lost Game 3 at home embarrassingly 6-1. But their resolve to play hard and have a short memory helped the team inch within a goal from forcing a Game 7. And more importantly taught the team a valuable lesson as they prepare to be better next year.
"I think it gives everyone taste of what playoffs are like and how this building is during the playoffs and how much fun it is," Schenn said. "We are still a young team we still have a lot to prove but it was nice to squeak in and take a run at it."
Rookie Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored his first career postseason goal in the series thinks the Flyers are closer than many think to being like the top-seeded Capitals (instead of the second Wild Card).
"I don't think much has to change," Gostisbehere, who will be among the names considered for the NHL's Rookie of the Year award later this spring, said. "We've got a great foundation going, we are going to play our game and do our thing and play our hockey. Good things are going to happen. A lot of people didn't expect us to be in the playoffs and that's the way we like it. We will play the underdog if we have to. It's been fun."
For Ghost, along with a lot of other youthful pieces that will likely be with the club when they mount their next playoff run, the lessons learned in the pressure cooker that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs are ones that fans will be glad their favorite players had in years to come. Even if this season's conclusion is tough to swallow.
"It's great to get a good taste of playoff hockey -- the first series for a couple of us," Gostisbehere said. "It was a good experience. We wanted it to go differently but you learn from everything and go from there."
"For him and everyone it's huge," Schenn said of Gostisbehere and his younger teammates. "Playoffs are a whole other animal, games are tough, physical and hard. For all of us to get a taste -- including him -- it will be helpful for the future.
"We took a step forward this year. I still think we have a little ways to go but it is valuable to get into the playoffs... it's not easy to win in the playoffs hopefully it will help us for next year."
Just how different is it in the postseason?
"It's a huge difference," Gostisbehere said. "The intensity level is up about 10 notches, the physicality, the emotions... you play for it all year you don't play 82 games for no reason. It's all on the line and I think that's what we realized."