The disappointment of missing the Stanley Cup playoffs was too fresh and the emotions still too raw for most of the Philadelphia Flyers players to be ready to take a big-picture outlook as they came to the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees on Wednesday for Exit Day interviews. Barely 12 hours earlier, the team was formally eliminated from the playoff race.

Nevertheless, there were some common themes -- beyond the damaging effect of the eight-game winless stretch in which the team lost control of its own destiny over the final three games of the reason -- about why the Flyers found themselves in a must-win-in-regulation game against Washington on Tuesday and about the team as a whole this season.

Here are five takeaways from Wednesday's three-hour media session with nearly all of the Flyers' players. 

1.  Every point is precious, all season

On Exit Day, several Flyers players pointed to missed opportunities in winnable games over the course of the season. 

"Every game matters, every point matters," alternate captain Scott Laughton said.

This is especially true in division games and other in-conference games, which are each two-point (overtime or shootout decisions) or four-point (regulation wins or losses) swings in the standings relative to each opponent. 

"You could have put away the teams that were chasing you, and we just didn't find a way," Laughton said.

Although the Flyers defeated the President's Trophy winning New York Rangers in their final road game and the New Jersey Devils in the penultimate home game, Philly's divisional record this season was subpar in the second half of the season. 

Overall, Philly was 1-2-1 against the Rangers, 1-2-1 against the Carolina Hurricanes, 1-1-1 against the New York Islanders, 1-2-0 against the Washington Capitals, 2-2-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1-1 against the New Jersey Devils, and 2-1-1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Combined, the Flyers were 10-11-5 against Metropolitan Division opposition. 

Leaguewide, the Flyers defeated every team in the NHL with the exception of the Nashville Predators (0-1-1 record) at least once this season in head-to-head competition. Even so, it was only good enough for 87 points.

"We left points on the table too many times," team captain Sean Couturier said.

Alternate captain Travis Konecny said that there's no such thing as a meaningless game during the marathon-like regular season.

"A nothing game on a Tuesday, random city,  that game matters," Konecny said.

Heading into this week, with the Flyers having one remaining game on their schedule and the three teams Philadelphia was battling for the final playoff spot (Washington, Detroit, and Pittsburgh) having two games left, the four clubs were separated by no more than one point. 

Philly, Washington and Detroit all had 87 points apiece. Pittsburgh had 86 points.

Over the course of 81 games, if the Flyers either had prevailed in one more winnable game that turned into a regulation loss -- for example, a 2-1 loss to the previously winless San Jose Sharks on Nov. 7 -- or had scratched out two more overtime points to go 6-9 in overtimes rather than 4-11, the outlook going into the Washington game would have looked quite different.  

Even with 89 points heading into the final game, even if the Flyers still endured the 0-6-2 stretch late in the season, the Flyers would not have needed a regulation win on the final night. They would not have had to worry about getting help from other teams. They'd have still controlled their own destiny, despite the stretch that saw Philly lose twice to Montreal, and once apiece to Chicago, Buffalo, and Columbus.

2. Power play woes were costly

The NHL only started officially tracking power play data in 1977-78. However, whether measured by official league records or by newspaper boxscore research, the 2023-24 season was the worst power play efficiency season in Flyers franchise history. 

The team finished 31-for-254 on the power play, for a 12.2 percent success rate. Prior to this season, the 2021-22 campaign (30-for-239, 12.6 percent) was officially the worst power play season in franchise history. The unofficial worst was the inaugural 1967-68 season (33-for-269, 12.3 percent).  Unfortunately, the "official" and "unofficial" distinctions no longer matter.

On a micro level, there were small segments of the season and certain aspects of the power play (entries after an opposing clearing pass, for example) that showed improvement from the last two years. The bottom line aspects, namely the lack of any consistent netfront,bumper (hash marks/slot) or flank finishing, did not improve.

Scoring goals with any consistency, whether at even strength or the power play, was a major problem for the Flyers most of the season. Oddly enough, the Flyers led the NHL in shorthanded goals by a wide margin (more on that in the next section).

"It's tough to pinpoint," Morgan Frost said on Exit Day. "A lot of fans were frustrated, and we were just as frustrated."

Frost led the Flyers in power play points this season with 11 (3 PPG, 8 PPA). But that was a modest distinction. 

Said Frost, "I played on the power play most of the season, so I take some responsibility there (for the teamwide struggles)."

Joel Farabee and Owen Tippett, also power play regulars, echoed a similar sentiment. 

"For a while there, I thought we were starting to trend in the right direction," Tippett said, likely referring to temporary stretches of apparent improvement in portions of January and late February to early March.

"Overall, though, we weren't nearly good enough. That's something we need to improve, obviously."

Laughton, who periodically saw power play duty (mostly on the right flank and half-wall) this season, said it was remarkable the Flyers got as close to as playoff spot as they did in light of the power play issues.

"It's actually pretty impressive what we did all year (considering) our power play, the way it was and not scoring."

As a matter of fact, it was downright staggering that the Flyers' season came down to the final game. Not only did the Flyers have the NHL's bottom-ranked power play, at the other end of the ice, Philly also had the NHL's lowest team save percentage (.8841) across all game situations. 

3. The locker room stayed united

Throughout the season, the Flyers players and head coach John Tortorella alike, often commented on how close-knit and unified the team was within the dressing room. There were no cliques, no players pointing fingers at teammates during tough times, and no one putting individual goals above team goals.  

This, too, was a near-constant theme brought up during Wednesday's Exit Day interviews. This included players who were only part of the team for a portion of the season. 

"I was welcomed right away," said Jamie Drysdale, whom the Flyers acquired from Anaheim on January 8, 2024. "There were some guys I knew from before, but the whole group was awesome."

Even after the eight-game losing streak and dealing with multiple potential distractions and factors that could easily divide a less-unified locker room, the Flyers players were able to circle the wagons and take their season to the final three minutes of Game 82.

"Why this hurts so much is that we know we can't bring back the entire group," Laughton said. "We played for each other until the end."

4. A season of growth

Whether it was the development of young players such as Cam York and rookies Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink or the collective learning experiences of the 82-game season, every player who spoke on Exit Day felt the club will benefit in the long term from what it went through over the course of 2023-24. 

"It's still a little too raw right now (to take a big-picture focus)," veteran defenseman Nick Seeler said. "But I think there's no doubt that we grew as a team and as individuals."

For example, forwards Ryan Poehling and Garnet Hathaway started out the season as linemates on the fourth line, along with Nicolas Deslauriers. By the stretch driveo of the campaign, they were still together as regular linemates, most commonly with Noah Cates on left wing. One big difference: The Cates-Poehling-Hathaway line was now regularly deployed as the team's second (sometimes even the first) line in terms of shift volume and time on ice, rather than as the first. 

York, meanwhile, was selected as the club's Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Award winner. The honor, which goes to the team's most improved player over the course of the season, is the only team award that is selected by the Flyers' players themselves.

"It was pretty special to be chosen by my teammates," York said on Exit Day.

5. Some guys aren't done playing quite yet

The Flyers will not be participating in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. That does not, however, mean that everyone is now in offseason mode.

Samuel Ersson, who became the Flyers' No. 1 goaltender over the final three months of the season, played 2,809 minutes in net for the Flyers this season. That workload rivaled the combined 2,512 AHL minutes with the Phantoms plus 645 NHL minutes he played with the Flyers in 2022-23. 

Ersson, however, does not want to immediately take a break. Asked on Exit Day if he would play for Team Sweden at the 2024 IIHF World Championships if invited by SIF (the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation), Ersson wasted no time expressing his interest.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon, the Flyers assigned four players -- forwards Brink and Olle Lycksell as well as defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning, to the Phantoms.  Lehigh Valley's magic number to clinch a Calder Cup playoff spot is down to one. The Phantoms have three games remaining in the regular season.

Assuming the Phantoms clinch a postseason spot this weekend, the readditions of these four players considerably improve Lehigh Valley's chances of prevailing in a first round best-of-three series. Last year, the Phantoms lost in three games to the Charlotte Checkers. This time around, the goal is to win a series and see what happens thereafter.