Steve Mason made the seven-hour drive from Philly to Ontario with his English Bulldog. George, and tried not to think about what had just happened. It was only a couple days earlier that his Flyers lost to the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.

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The pain was fresh, and only got worse when the Rangers kept winning, won some more and found themselves in the Stanley Cup finals.

“When we think back and go, ‘Hey, that could have been us,’ it will drive you crazy,” the goalie said. “You put it behind you and you learn from things. As a team, we needed to play better to win that series and we didn’t. You go into the summer with that sour taste. You let that drive you for the summer and now we’re back here. Everybody’s starting from the same page.”

Friday marks the start of training camp, the first chance to release the demons that haunted the players all summer and start another journey, hoping that maybe the 40th try for that elusive Lord Stanley Cup will be the charm.

For as bad as a 1-7 start was and how much as the Flyers had to bust tail just to make the playoffs, everyone seems to feel as though there was untapped potential last season.

“Also, it’s a Game 7,” Vinny Lecavalier added on the team’s demise last season. “You never know…if we win that game, you never know what happens after that. It’s easy to say after you lose that series, but I really feel there’s a lot of potential. We know what we’re doing with the system starting right from the get-go. No changes and stuff like that. I think it’s gonna be good. It’s a young team, but there are a lot of games played and a lot of experience.”

It’s also mostly the same team. Left wing Scott Hartnell was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and defenseman Kimmo Timonen won’t be with the team due to blood clots in his leg and both lungs. Few roster spots are really up for grabs.

The biggest question coming into training camp might not even be decided by the end of training camp: who will replace Hartnell as Claude Giroux’s left wing? The early frontrunner is Brayden Schenn, a natural center, but others will probably see time there as well.