Rob's Rants: Enough already with Dave Hakstol's coach-speak

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Rob's Rants: Enough already with Dave Hakstol's coach-speak

Rob’s Rants have been an Eagle-free zone for the past 10 weeks and clearly, that isn’t changing anytime soon. Let’s hope we can keep this run going well beyond Super Bowl Sunday and into the offseason. But there is one Philadelphia team that has not escaped the wrath and it’s not the Sixers or Phillies.

Dave Hakstol
The Flyers have been mired in a serious funk of late. They lost their eighth straight Monday, another heartbreaker at the hands of the Penguins. Their inability to hang on to leads and their lack of scoring contributions from anyone not named Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier or Jakub Voracek is a major issue. Despite good goaltending from Brian Elliott, this team continues to disappoint.

But even more unacceptable than the lack of scoring balance and late-game collapses are the comments from head coach Dave Hakstol. Exhibit A comes after his club blew a two-goal lead at home on Black Friday versus the Islanders.

“You’ve got to evaluate it for what it is," Hakstol said last Friday. "I think in seven of our last 10 we’ve gotten a point. Five of those are shootout or overtime losses.”

I’m not one who believes in flipping tables and calling players out after every loss, no matter how bad the defeat. That act grows old real quick with professionals in 2017. The days of Mike Keenan are gone. However, there is a fine line between setting fire to your dressing room and Hakstol’s postgame rationalizations. Publicly, he is a monotone, work-hard, muck-and-grind, generally-say-nothing type of coach. And that’s fine as long as he can motivate his players. Clearly, that’s not happening. In both losses to the Islanders, the Flyers were caught asleep in the defensive zone in the 3-on-3 overtime. It’s bad enough something like that happens once but the very next game? They are puck-watching while the other team scores the game-winner. That is discipline.   

Taking solace in getting seven points in your last 10 games is not just coachspeak, it’s irresponsible and sends a weak message to the players and the Flyers' devout fan base. Ron Hextall, a very patient man, went out on a limb when he hired Hakstol, who had no previous NHL coaching experience. So it will be interesting to see how much rope Hextall gives Hakstol if this continues. But as the old saying goes: It’s getting late early.  

NFL celebrations
We’ve certainly seen our fair share of touchdown celebrations with the number of times the Eagles have found the end zone this year. And ever since the NFL loosened up the reigns on post-touchdown fun, players and teams have gotten quite creative. Some love it, some hate it. This debate is pretty simple. If your team’s the one celebrating after a score, you love it. If it’s the opposition doing the choreography, you don’t.

Jim Harbaugh
For all the bluster, the Woody Hayes glasses, satellite camps, the bad khakis hiked up to his breasts and the thousand-yard stares, Jim Harbaugh has come up real small at Michigan. They’ve lost to Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State this year. All quality teams, but losing to all of them ain’t cutting it. In his three seasons in Ann Arbor, he’s 0-3 vs. Ohio State and 1-7 versus top-10 teams. Maybe lose all the antics and deliver a better offense.      

Young rookie
I’ve noticed several NFL broadcasters, but in particular, Troy Aikman use the term “young rookie.” With the exception of a Brandon Weeden, Chris Weinke or Drew Henson — who came back to football after failed baseball careers — aren’t all rookies young?

Christmas car gift
Christmas and holiday commercials are now in heavy rotation. There is one in particular that has driven me nuts for years. The husband or wife will come downstairs and be escorted outside, only to be presented with a brand new car with a bow on the hood. Maybe it’s me, I didn’t come from money, but I have yet to meet anyone who’s been given an extremely pricey, luxury car for Christmas. Who is this target audience?

Flyers cap off crucial weekend with win over Washington

Flyers cap off crucial weekend with win over Washington


A three-goal second period highlighted by Oskar Lindblom's first career NHL goal propelled the Flyers past the Capitals, 6-3, Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Lindblom's first career goal came one night after picking up his first NHL point, an assist in Carolina.

The Flyers have regained their scoring touch with 13 goals over their last three games after managing just 11 in the five previous games.

Claude Giroux picked up an assist, tying him with Eric Lindros for fifth place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.

Petr Mrazek stopped 25 shots, winning his fifth game since joining the Flyers. If the Flyers reach the postseason, then the conditional pick to Detroit would become a third-round selection.

In a potential first-round playoff preview, the Flyers won their season series against the Capitals, improving to 3-1-0.

• The Flyers struck first after winning a key offensive-zone faceoff. Giroux pushed the puck behind him to Shayne Gostisbehere, who ripped a perfectly placed slapper about two feet off the ice, forcing Philipp Grubauer to change the angle of his glove.

• Alex Ovechkin can sneak up on you at a moment’s notice and he doesn’t always need to uncork that 100-mph slap shot as evidenced by his 43rd goal of the season. Ovechkin snuck behind the Flyers' defense and redirected a puck past Mrazek. It was just his second goal in his last eight games against the Flyers, and he was unnoticeable until that moment.

• The Flyers quickly responded just 3 minutes, 11 seconds after Ovechkin's goal. In his 14th game, Lindblom ripped a shot high blocker side from the right circle. Credit Lindblom for applying a good forecheck that led to Michal Kempny’s errant pass that led to a 2-1 Flyers lead.

“The kid is getting some confidence right now and you can really tell,” Gostisbehere said. “He’s really going and Jake’s (Voracek) been really building him up there.”

• Interesting to see rookie Robert Hagg paired with Radko Gudas in his first game back from injury. I expected Hagg to be back with Andrew MacDonald, who he’s been with for much of the season. For the most part, Hagg looked good with Gudas, although he pinched and no forward picked him up on the back side leading to another Capitals odd-man rush. 

• Sean Couturier can’t buy a goal right now. He’s been stuck on 29 goals for over a month and he had a pair of prime chances in the same sequence Sunday. His first attempt came on a backhand pass from MacDonald that he tried to slide under Grubauer’s five hole. However, over the past three games he’s been contributing offensively with an assist in all three games. I feel it’s only a matter of time before Couturier gets No. 30.   

• The Flyers' three-goal second period was one of the best all around 20 minutes in a while. Constant pressure offensively with a flurry of prime scoring chances. They were also able to eliminate some of the defensive breakdowns from the first period as Mrazek didn’t have to produce any top-notch saves.

• Coming off a disappointing game in Carolina, Gostisbehere was bumped off the puck at the Caps' blue line and as he stumbled to the ice, it led to a 3-on-2 and a nice sprawling save from Mrazek to keep the game scoreless. If you’ve watched him closely, Ghost’s performance has dipped a little over the past several games.

Late rally gives Flyers something to show for strong effort

Late rally gives Flyers something to show for strong effort


RALEIGH, N.C. – Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol commended his team for a complete 60-minute effort that was needed to overtake and defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 at PNC Arena on Saturday night (see observations).

“It’s an important two points, but I guess, as important I thought it was a really hard-working, start-to-finish win for us,” he said.

Placing Alex Lyon in net to lead from the back end, the young netminder made 23 stops, many critical, that allowed the Flyers to generate momentum to strike all at once in the third period.

Trailing 1-0, containing the Hurricanes’ speed and ability to maintain puck possession was a priority – somewhat of ‘survive and advance’ mindset to have in March.

The Flyers won 27 of 48 draws, a stat that eventually evened out, but was a critical one that the Flyers led in for two periods, before taking advantage of Carolina turnovers in the third.

 “It was a grind,” Hakstol said. “I liked the way we played in the first two periods. We talked about a couple of little things we can maybe improve going into the third, but the biggest thing was making sure we went out and got a big penalty kill to start with and just go back at it.”

For 40 minutes, Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward stymied shooters like Jakub Voracek and crease cleaners like Wayne Simmonds, among others, but the force of the shield he presented eventually diminished late in the game. The Flyers scored all four of their goals in the final 11-plus minutes.

While giving the puck away 10 times, 15 takeaways allowed the Flyers to regain possessions and capitalize on their chances when it counted most. 

“I don’t know if there was a catalyst,” Hakstol said when asked to identify the turning point in the game for his team.

“A lot of times it’s the simple, hard things that you do. That’s what it takes to score at this time of year.”

The win pulled the Flyers back into a tie for third place in the Metropolitan Division, a floating buoy line extending to the wild-card spot they will tread beside for the remainder of the season, unless they can compile more wins like this one.

“We needed a win for a lot of different reasons,” Hakstol said. “We needed the two points in every respect, but we needed a win for our group in here to have something to show for their hard work. When you lose games and can’t put wins together, the negatives really start to magnify, even though there’s a ton of positives. On a couple of different levels, this was an important two points.”