The Flyers were in so deep, it appeared daunting, even impossible.
On the morning of Jan. 10, 43 games into the season, the Flyers were entombed in last place of the 31-team NHL standings at 15-22-6 with 36 points.
More than halfway through their schedule, no other team was in worse shape.
Seven days earlier, Wayne Simmonds said the team's struggles felt like "quicksand."
"We're trying to get out and it feels like it's just getting deeper," he said.
No way they dig out of this, right? Maybe the Flyers were trying to climb all at once. It's the pressure the Flyers probably felt, trying to win 10 games in a night or lasso five teams with just one toss of the rope.
But since Jan. 10, when they could sink no lower, the Flyers have won eight of nine games, a stretch that includes this current seven-game win streak.
Around the beginning of the streak, interim head coach Scott Gordon provided his team realistic perspective.
Here was his message:
The biggest thing right now for us is just to make sure we don't worry about the eighth-place seed, we don't worry about the team that is 10 points in front of us, we just worry about what's in front of us immediately. … Whether it's the 10th-place team, the ninth-place team, we just worry about that team. Try to get above them.
There are like two or three teams that are lumped together, and we move above them, then we can worry about the next tier. And then if everything's going to plan and we're still doing what we're doing, then we can start worrying about the eighth seed. But right now, it's just what's in front of us.
The Flyers are ready to hunt, one team at a time. Gordon's outlook, which he mentioned following the Flyers' 5-4 OT win Saturday over the Oilers, is resonating.
"We know we're a good team," Simmonds said. "Obviously we didn't have the ideal first half of the season but you never know what can happen — you stick with it, keep chipping away. You think of the smaller picture: catch the next team in front of you and go from there."
Remarkably, the Flyers are within striking distance, starting to join a race they looked no part of less than a month ago. They are within seven points of the Blue Jackets, who hold the Eastern Conference's second wild-card position. Twenty days ago, the Flyers were 15 points out of that spot.
Since residing in the NHL basement, the Flyers have overstepped five teams in the wild-card picture.
They needed a streak.
They also needed the right frame of mind to put one together.
The Flyers don't have a standings board up at their practice facility or at the Wells Fargo Center.
As Gordon walked away from the podium at his postgame press conference Saturday, he smiled and said, "The team in front of us is in first place."
Such a mindset has the Flyers focused, feeling like they're right there.
Thirty games remain and they believe in the chase.
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