The Philadelphia Flyers were considered as strong as any team in the Eastern Conference when the Stanley Cup Playoffs got under way. After they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins handily in the first round, many experts thought the Flyers would advance deep into the playoffs, but it wasn't meant to be.
The New Jersey Devils eliminated the Flyers in five games in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals and it wasn't even that close when all was said and done.
Here are five ways the Flyers beat themselves in their recent series with New Jersey.
The Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge free-agent deal this offseason: nine years, $51 million. He was supposed to solve the goaltending problem the Flyers have had since Ron Hextall left town more than 20 years ago.
The results were inconsistent during the regular season, but it was Bryzgalov's performance in the playoffs that would truly determine if he was worth the money.
He wasn't. His statistics were not horrible, but Bryzgalov was inconsistent. At times, he kept the Flyers in games when they were being badly outplayed, but at other times, he gave up soft goals that deflated his club.
The play he made in Game 5 that led directly to David Clarkson's go-ahead goal was symbolic of Bryzgalov's 2012 playoff season. So far, he has to be considered a major disappointment.
In the playoffs, goals become increasingly rare as games get more physical and open space is tougher to come by. Scoring on the power play becomes crucial, especially in a close series.
Against Pittsburgh, the Flyers were on fire with the man-advantage, finishing 12-for-23. Against New Jersey, Philadelphia finished a disappointing 3-for-19 on the power play.
Claude Giroux was the player that made the Flyers' power play go in the first round, but he was not very effective in the second round and sat out Game 5 after being suspended for a head-shot in Game 4.
The Flyers made some big hits against the Devils, but unlike the Penguins, the Devils kept their cool. On many occasions, the Flyers went for the big hit but put themselves out of position and gave New Jersey quality scoring chances.
While Philadelphia actually had one more power-play chance than the Devils in the series, many of the Flyers' penalties were unnecessary and foolish. They allowed themselves to be put in difficult situations and you can't afford to do that against a smart team like New Jersey.
Claude Giroux was the best player on the ice for Philadelphia against the Penguins. His play tailed off a bit in the second round, but he was still a vital part of the Flyers team on and off the ice.
In Game 4 against the Devils, Giroux delivered an illegal head-shot to Dainius Zubrus. The NHL suspended Giroux for one game as a result and the Flyers had to face elimination without their best player.
Game 5 was a close contest and there is little doubt Giroux could have helped the Flyers if he was able to play. It was another example of an undisciplined play by the Flyers that led to their own demise.
The Flyers won a lot of hockey games this year by outworking their opponents, but against the Devils, even the Flyers players admitted New Jersey seemed to want it more.
"I made a couple soft plays," Scott Hartnell told reporters, according to Yahoo! Sports. "You look around the room, everyone was doing it. That's losing hockey. It's almost embarrassing hockey. It's not Flyers hockey, that's for sure."
"I think the whole game, they worked harder," Claude Giroux said after Game 4. "They win battles. It looks like they want it more than us. It's frustrating because the whole season we've been out-working every team and now it's the other way around. I don't know what to tell you."