Even though the Flyers' elimination from playoff contention was inevitable, there was an aura of sadness in coach Craig Berube's voice Monday as he talked about what could have been.
"In the back of your head, you always think you have a chance, and when you're officially eliminated, it's not a good feeling," Berube said in a low tone after practice in Voorhees one day after Boston's win knocked the Flyers out of contention.
The Flyers have six games left, starting with Wednesday's matchup in Pittsburgh.
"We just have to play for our pride, play for each other," winger Jake Voracek said.
All season, Berube felt the Flyers were good enough to be a playoff team.
"I still do. It's a fine line between winning and losing . . . between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs," he said. "It really is. A lot of it is mental."
For proof on the "fine line," compare the Flyers with the New York Islanders, who have 95 points and are generally regarded as Stanley Cup contenders.
Yet the Flyers (77 points) have just two fewer regulation losses than the Isles.
The Flyers are 8-17 in games decided beyond regulation - 3-10 in shootouts, 5-7 in overtimes.
Conversely, the Islanders are 13-5 in games that went past regulation - 7-4 in shootouts, 6-1 in overtimes.
The offensively challenged Flyers' inability to win close games killed their season. They won just 14 of 41 one-goal games, going 14-10-17.
"Things can go the other way a little bit and they can really weigh on your mind," said Berube, who added that the team's 9-20-10 road record was its greatest downfall. "It can really create things in your head. Or you can think negatively. Last year we had this mojo going in the third period where we were coming from behind and we knew we were going to. This year we didn't have that mojo."
A year ago, the Flyers had 11 comeback wins in the third period. This season, they are just 3-22-6 when trailing heading into the third period.
"Got to get it back," Berube said of the comeback magic. "Like I said, it's a good group of guys. Obviously some real good, talented players in this room; they're all good guys and they believe in each other, which is important."
Berube said Darryl Sutter, coach of the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings, "said it best the other day: 'It's harder to make the playoffs than win the Cup.' It's hard to get in the playoffs; there are a lot of good teams. There's not many bad teams. They're all competitive, all well-coached and you really have to be consistent throughout the season."
In that area - consistency - the Flyers failed miserably.
Defenseman Nick Schultz was the Flyers' nominee for the Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who shows the most perseverance. The nomination was made by the Philadelphia Chapter of the Hockey Writers Association, and the winner will be announced June 24 in Las Vegas. . . . Luke Schenn probably will miss the rest of the season with a lower-body injury, GM Ron Hextall announced. . . . Mark Streit was scheduled to return Monday night from Switzerland, where he was spending time with an ailing relative.