There was nothing Dave Hakstol did — or didn't do — Sunday that held a drastic impact on the outcome of Game 3, a 5-1 loss for the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The players committed infraction after infraction while Hakstol served simply as a bystander to the carelessness, which now has the Flyers pinned in a 2-1 series deficit (see story).
But, in a way, Hakstol's own admission postgame encapsulated the entire makeup of this best-of-seven first-round playoff matchup with the Penguins.
On one side, there's a team rich with experience, built to win these series-shifting games, no matter the environment or circumstances.
On the other side, there's a team still sprouting, still learning in these moments, even with a blend of veterans.
And even for the head coach.
Not hiding from accountability, Hakstol wished he had done something differently Sunday as the Flyers were in the midst of uncoiling. Evgeni Malkin had just sent a power-play missile into the back of the Flyers' net, ballooning Pittsburgh's lead to 3-0 just 6:48 into the second period, while sounding the alarms for the Flyers.
No one reacted and things never settled.
"I should have taken a timeout after the third, after the third goal," Hakstol said. "Hindsight is 20/20, you don't get it back. You always want to save that timeout because I felt like we were playing well. We had a bad stretch, we dug a little bit of a hole, but I had no doubt that we could come back and dig our way out of that hole."
Five seconds later, directly off the faceoff and at 4-on-4, Sidney Crosby made a play not many else can to set up the Penguins' insurmountable 4-0 advantage. Within a flash, the air was sucked out of the Flyers and their fans.
"You want to save that timeout for the critical time at the end of the game," Hakstol said. "Well, go home with it in your back pocket and what good does it do you? That would have been one thing to stop that momentum because that 4-on-4 goal … now you're in a real deep hole, that's tough to come back from."
After the Flyers committed eight penalties, seven of which were stick violations, Hakstol didn't have to take any blame but did anyway. He was also forced to discuss, at length, his team's discipline. When asked to expand some more on the topic, Hakstol nearly grew frustrated.
"Well, I think the penalty problems were particular to tonight and I already talked to that," Hakstol said. "You've got to take care of your stick. We took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty and we took how many stick penalties? There, it's been addressed. Now we have to go out and execute. Sorry, I don't mean to … that is what it is."
And the Flyers, through no real fault of their own, are what they are right now — a group, from the coaches down to the players, still growing through some on-the-job training.
It just so happens to be on the playoff stage against a team that's been there, done that.