Flyers: wide-eyed opportunists

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The Flyers are one of only eight teams that have made the playoffs four of the last five years. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

In the Stanley Cup playoffs, anything really can happen.

This just in...

Just a look at the numbers for the last five tournaments -- since the lockout and the rules changes that opened up the game to more skill -- tell you all you need to know about the importance of opportunism most of all. The NHL is a league where an entrance ticket into the playoffs is a real and valuable thing -- real and valuable because everybody really does start with a clean slate. The Stanley Cup is not won by the best team but by the team that is playing the best.

Just look at how wide-open it is.

In the last 5 years:

-- of the 30 NHL teams, 28 of them have made the tournament at least once.

-- of the 28 teams that made it, 18 have won at least one playoff round.

-- only three teams have made it to the playoffs all five years: New Jersey, San Jose and Detroit.

-- besides those three, only eight others have made it to four playoffs in 5 years: Anaheim, Ottawa, Montreal, Nashville, New York Rangers, Calgary, Pittsburgh and the Flyers.

-- no team, as in zero, has won a round in all five seasons.

-- here is the list of total rounds won in those five years: 10 (Detroit), 8 (Pittsburgh), 7 (Anaheim), 6 (Carolina), 5 (San Jose, Chicago, Flyers).

All of which helps no one predict the future. Hopefully, what it does is highlight the fleeting nature of excellence and the value of the opportunity -- something the Flyers seem to have realized weeks ago. This just in.

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