No NHL team had more victories or scored more goals than the Pittsburgh Penguins in this year's regular season.
Yet, no team in this spring's playoffs could have made tee times faster than the same Penguins.
We interrupt the Penguins' eulogy for this message: Pittsburgh is not dead. In fact, the Penguins look like they are on the verge of climbing back into the series after Wednesday's 10-3 wipeout of the defense-challenged Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Penguins, despite playing without three of their suspended forwards, staved off elimination in a pond-hockey game disguised as a Stanley Cup playoff.
The Penguins have life, lots of it, despite now facing a three-games-to-one deficit in the Pennsylvania Cold War series.
For one, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who hasn't been the same since suffering a chip fracture in his right foot, looks lost in the woods. Again. He allowed five goals on 18 shots before being yanked early in the second period.
For another, Pittsburgh's star power at center - Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal - is rising to the top. They combined for six goals and three assists Wednesday, including Malkin's first two tallies of the postseason.
Staal had a hat trick, and Crosby contributed three points.
"We needed it from the big guys, and it was there," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Staal said the Penguins are taking a cautious approach.
"It's just one game, and we know they're going to come with a better effort" on Friday, he said after the Flyers tied a dubious franchise record for most goals allowed in a playoff game. "And we're going to have to be even better. It won't be easy."
After the morning skate, center Claude Giroux said the Flyers didn't want to give the Penguins any life, didn't want the series going back to Pittsburgh.
"They're kind of a streaky team that can win a lot of games in a row," Giroux said.
The Penguins won at least four straight four times in the regular season, including a late-season 11-game winning streak.
Then again, the Flyers never lost four straight in the regular season.
The streaks aside, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury also gave the Penguins reason to have some optimism: After a shaky first period, the staggering Fleury settled into a groove that he can take into Game 5.
"Everyone knew the situation and responded," said Crosby, adding he blocked out most of the fans' derogatory chants that were directed at him.
When fans entered the arena Wednesday, they were given bright orange T-shirts that read: GUESS WHAT? WE DON'T LIKE YOU EITHER!
The shirts, of course, were in response for Crosby voicing his dislike for Flyers winger Jakub Voracek in particular and the Flyers in general. That was after the Flyers' 8-4 win in Game 3.
Crosby had the last laugh Wednesday, notching a goal and two assists. He had insisted the Penguins "all believe we can come back" before the game.
Now, as the series shifts back to Pittsburgh - where forwards James Neal and Craig Adams can return from suspensions - the words don't seem as hollow.