Alain Vigneault said "never critique a win" three times Thursday night following the Flyers' 3-1 victory over the Devils.
Vigneault repeated it almost as if to remind himself his team had won because the head coach had a critique.
Let's get into that and more in our latest three Flyers thoughts.
1. 'Didn't do much for me'
Through the first and second periods Thursday against New Jersey, the Flyers were outplayed and outshot 24-8. They were fortunate to enter the third period with the game tied at 1-1. The fourth line of Michael Raffl, Connor Bunnaman and Nicolas Aube-Kubel stood out and produced the game-winning goal.
Bunnaman was rock solid as he won nine of 10 faceoffs, had a team-high three hits and assisted Raffl's goal.
Vigneault was pleased with that line and his third unit of Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Joel Farabee. He highlighted Carter Hart's 33-save effort in net and commended his defensemen for playing hard.
He was not pleased with his top two forward lines of James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes and Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux, Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny.
"I think a couple of guys' performances in those first two periods were very disappointing," Vigneault said. "Get a day off [Friday] and they'll get a chance to regroup."
Why did Vigneault think the energy and effectiveness was missing?
"You'd have to ask the players," he said. "It's their responsibility to get themselves ready to be in a state of mind where they can compete and execute. I liked Scotty Laughton's line with Oskar and Joel and I liked Bunnaman's line. The other two lines didn't do much for me, but, can't critique a win."
You can bet it will be critiqued, particularly the top two lines, before the Flyers take on the Islanders in a huge back-to-back set this weekend at the Wells Fargo Center.
Throughout their 5-2-1 start, the Flyers have played extended stretches in the defensive zone. Perhaps the Flyers are still finding their 60-minute condition and legs. There were no preseason games and six on-ice days in training camp. Vigneault's system is an effort-based, possession-oriented attack. The Flyers have to rediscover that identity again and soon.
2. Hextall to the Flyers' rival?
Imagine Ron Hextall sporting a Penguins logo ... weird, right?
We're imagining it after TSN's Frank Seravalli wrote about Pittsburgh's sudden vacancy at general manager.
Jim Rutherford on Wednesday resigned as the Penguins' GM for personal reasons. Rutherford, who turns 72 years old in February, led Pittsburgh to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017.
Seravalli's piece detailed Rutherford's work with the Penguins and his possible replacements. Hextall, the former Flyers general manager, was mentioned, as Seravalli wrote how Hextall "spent time growing up in Pittsburgh while his father, Bryan, played for the Penguins." Seravalli also noted Flyers senior advisor Dean Lombardi as a candidate. You can read Seravalli's article and list of candidates right here.
Hextall, now an advisor to the Kings' hockey operations department, knows how to draft, develop and retool a team's future. Pittsburgh is a team that could be nearing that stage.
3. 'The Processor'
Teammates have raved about 34-year-old defenseman Nate Prosser, who has played only one game in a Flyers jersey. He's a team-first guy, though, and players embrace those types of individuals.
Thursday night marked Prosser's first NHL game since Jan. 17, 2019. He didn't look like he hadn't played an NHL game in over two years. He was steady, reliable and scored a goal.
Giroux called him "The Processor." Or shall we spell it: "The Prossessor."
"He's a very smart hockey player, so he's always in good positions," Giroux said. "We were really pumped when he scored that goal."
"He's an absolute legend in the locker room," Michael Raffl added.
"He's a huge team guy," Giroux said, "so couldn't be more happy for him."
Prosser's smile was evident despite him wearing his mask in Thursday's postgame interview.
"It's a tight locker room and I just wanted to get into it as seamless as I could," he said. "I obviously didn't want to ruffle any feathers or jump in front of anyone in the warmups. I play for the logo on the front and I've done that my whole career. I'm a team-first guy and I'm here to help the team get wins any way I can."
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