BOSTON -- One season removed from a historic comeback, the Philadelphia Flyers were swept in a seven-game series for only the sixth time in franchise history.
Doing the damage was the team they embarrassed last season -- the Boston Bruins. The Flyers rallied from a 3-0 series deficit last year to defeat the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinal round and, in the process, become only the third team in history to do so. But they'd be on the short end of a four-game annihilation this spring.
It was certainly a tough pill to swallow, considering the optimism and outlook in Philadelphia heading into the 2010-11 campaign. Many hockey pundits had the Flyers not only returning to the Stanley Cup Final, but raising the big trophy in the end.
"I'm not too sure (what happened)," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "It is disappointing to end on a loss every year. With high hopes in the team that we had and the confidence that we had in each other … it stinks. There's no other way to put it."
"I really think they outworked us and they won more battles," forward Claude Giroux said. "Their team was better than our team."
Once again, it'll be another offseason of questioning and uncertainty over what exactly went wrong.
"It's tough," forward James van Riemsdyk said. "I mean, it's something that you're never really prepared for … to stop playing, to be knocked out. You want to be playing to the very end and lift that trophy over your head and to not get there is pretty devastating."
With the exception of Game 2, however, the Bruins basically had their way against the Flyers. There were countless defensive breakdowns and the goaltenders were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The Flyers were outscored, 20-7, in four games against the Bruins.
"Defensively, we weren't able to generate what we had done all year," coach Peter Laviolette said. "(Boston) did a good job through the neutral zone and a good job in their own end. We couldn't penetrate. Defensively, I think they (the Bruins) did a pretty good job."
Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell, who logged 10:45 of ice time and blocked one shot, gave credit where it was due.
"I'm not going to say the better team won, but the team that was playing better is moving on," O'Donnell said. "They're hitting on all cylinders right now. We put a good effort in, but it just seems we weren't hitting on all cylinders. It seemed like when we did get a chance it was jumping over a stick, or they were getting a stick in the lane. Their second goal (in the third period by Johnny Boychuk) to go up by one went off a shaft. I'm not taking anything away. They deserved the series, but it seemed like we were a little bit off and they were playing real well."
Perhaps the most telling statistic of Game 4 was the fact that, in an elimination game, the Flyers only generated 23 shots -- their lowest total of the playoffs.
"I thought we showed desperation," O'Donnell said. "Like I said, we came out the first 10 minutes, and we got into some penalty problems. I think it kind put us on our heels a little bit. We had some turnovers in the first period. I thought from when it was 2-1, we had a lot of good chances to tie it up. It seemed liked they bent and didn't break and they are moving on."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale