When evaluating a season that does not end in a championship, the question invariably boils down to: Do you consider this season a success?
At first glance, it is easy to consider the Flyers' 2011-12 campaign a success in the big picture, given the strides made by rookies, the abundance of scoring depth, and the flakiness of their goaltending.
For me, I have a tough time saying it is a complete success, just based on the opportunity squandered.
To listen to Kimmo Timonen describe it, after the Fleyrs beat the Penguins in the first round, he considered every remaining team as very "beatable."
The Rangers have needed seven games in both of their first two rounds. Washington has trouble scoring at times. And the Devils finished below the Flyers in the standings.
Once the Flyers rid the playoffs of the Penguins, their path to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup final was clear and well established. Perhaps that is why the Flyers ended up falling in the second round.
The point is that there aren't going to be many opportunities like that, where the best team in the tournament is knocked out in the first round.
Here are a few random opinions on the season:
"I think we had a decent year. I am disappointed we are not playing. When you start the year, your goal is to win the Stanley Cup. The fact that we are sitting here talking today, I am disappointed. I am excited about how our team is going to look next year. That is what I am excited about.
"We knew we had a good group of young guys. I think the coaches did a good job of putting them in situations and giving them roles that keep them excelling. To their credit they did. For [Sean] Couturier to play the role he did in the playoffs as a shut down centerman and make plays gives you a glimpse of what he is going to do in the future. It is pretty neat."
"Talking from experience, I can definitely look at this year as a great step for this organization. Meaning that, when you look at all the rookies on this team that played in their first playoff game, I can go back 6 years ago with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and you look at the core we had that year and we got totally beat against the Ottawa Senators who went on to the Stanley Cup Finals, they were just too good for us we lost in the first round, five games and it went really quick. So you look at the chance we had playing against Pittsburgh 6 games and then losing that way against the Devils with high expectations, so it's disappointing but at the same time it stings. What we can take from that is big for this team."
"We made a lot of changes. At the start of the season I think yes. Like I said, we have a lot of young players and guys care for each other. We have a good group of guys here; guys want to play for each other. Like I said, we come to the rink every day and we are happy to be here. That is obviously a pretty good step."
"I think it was a great season. There was obviously a lot of change, coming in here with new faces, the young guys and you never know how that's going to turn out kind of like my first year here in Philadelphia. It was Danny B, Kimmo, Jason Smith, Lupul, all those guys were new guys and the chemistry that we had right away was great and the same thing happened this year. So, looking forward I like our chances of our guys getting some experience on them and having bigger and better years."
"I think that there's always an adjustment period for players when they come in here to a big city. The thought of this group, or the majority of this group moving forward leaves a real positive taste in everybody's mouth. There's really not much else you can do, you can't talk about would haves or could haves, it just leaves that hollow feeling right now. But moving forward, it's a positive outlook."