The Flyers didn't make things easy this season.
The team dug an early hole and had to spend late winter and early spring fighting desperately for a playoff spot.
"I mean you want to get in the playoffs through the whole season," Jakub Voracek said. "We were out 9 [points] out of the playoffs, we still dug in. We lost in the playoffs 3-0 to the best team in the league. We came back hard 3-2 playing at home. The fans were great. It’s very upsetting we couldn’t pull it off.”
They were a young team in transition and extremely inconsistent. But when they focused and were able to play 60 minutes of playoff-caliber hockey, the Flyers deserved to be in the postseason (even though many experts surmised they wouldn't be ready until at least next season).
The only thing that caught Capitals head coach Barry Trotz off guard was the fact that the first three games were as one-sided as they were.
"I was probably more surprised that we were up 3-0," the Capitals coach said as he prepares to face the Penguins in the second round. "Going into the series, I believe we can win every game, but at this time of year you look at the quality of opponents -- you know you’ve got the 16 best teams out there and it’s so hard to make the playoffs. And you look at the growth of, like Philadelphia. We got off to a good start and they didn’t get off to a great start. But since January 1st the difference between us and them I think is three points. And the quality of teams they have to beat to get in the playoffs, we knew that they were going to be a real good opponent."
Philly lost its offense early in the series and were unable to get more than five pucks past Braden Holtby (with a sixth coming in an empty net). But the Flyers played eight intense periods of hockey on home ice (ignoring the infamous period three of Game 3). The team was proud when the home fans gave them a standing ovation at the end of Sunday's 1-0 elimination loss.
“It was amazing," Voracek said. "They’ve been behind us all season long. I’m glad that after we went down 3-0 we could play three games at home. Like I said, it’s too bad we couldn’t pull it off. I can guarantee we left everything out there.”
The offseason will be a chance for Flyers stars to get healthy and to improve on their own -- something Voracek is looking to do after his 2015-16 was a letdown after his career year in 2014-15.
“Can’t be much worse than it was this year, and the beginning of the season," the winger said. "I’m going to do what I did last two summers, go to Montreal work hard. There’s a World Cup in September. Get ready for that and we got to catch the start next year because we were chasing all season long. If you have a good start to the season it’s always easier.”