Flyers

Can Flyers figure out 'what the hell is going on' before it's too late?

Can Flyers figure out 'what the hell is going on' before it's too late?

BOX SCORE

Moments before Saturday's game, Dave Scott, the chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, chatted with Flyers general manager Ron Hextall from the team's management box near the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.

It looked like a jovial conversation as both overlooked the ice.

The joviality in the building stopped there once the Flyers fell behind, 1-0, and slid down a disastrous path for a 6-1 loss to the Islanders (see observations).

Fans booed … a lot. Some chanted for Dave Hakstol's firing. When the Islanders scored their sixth goal midway through the third period, most had enough, storming for the exits and miserable weather that awaited them outside.

A true horror story on a Halloween-themed day by the organization.

In Game 11 of the season, no less.

"We have to play better," Ivan Provorov said, "and we have to figure out soon what the hell is going on."

Saturday's performance would have been jarring in and of itself. Considering it came a day after the head coach pleaded for his team to collectively "sack up" and push forward together (see story), this reverberation was disturbing.

The Flyers looked defeated and portrayed it postgame. Typically, anger and frustration boil over following a defeat such as Saturday's decision.

Instead, the Flyers looked numb, lost and in need of a vacation.

After Game 11.

That's not to say the Flyers are giving up. They expressed some confidence in regrouping and realizing the potential that had many abuzz at the season's start, but a lifeless look this early is just as troubling as the actual score following the final buzzer.

The Flyers must find their life — and find it fast. Claude Giroux felt the team is pressing because it's "just tired of losing." Scott Laughton said. "it shouldn't happen like this" for a group built to win. Hakstol admitted confidence has been shaken.

"As soon as we gave up the first goal, then we start to chase a little bit," Hakstol said. "Honestly, tonight we tightened up in this building and that's not a very good formula to push back into a hockey game. It leads to things like cheating on pucks and looking for plays that you hope are there — it leads to that.

"We've got too much going on in between our ears right now and I see that in our game. So, that's my job to clear some of that up, clear some of that out so that we can go out and play the game with a clear head. It's really hard to play the game when you've got too much going on, so we've got to simplify it, we've got to clear it up and we've got to do better."

Does a message get lost when everything unravels?

"I trust our leadership group," Hakstol said. "That's a good group of guys in there, they care, they're fricking miserable right now. So I don't worry about that.

"You control your readiness, your preparation and your response. That's the bottom line. Right now, we're not doing a good job of controlling that. So, it has to start there and then you move on to the rest of the items."

There are too many to count. If the Flyers let them pile up this fast, the repercussions should be much scarier than Saturday's nightmare.

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The players have spoken: Gritty is NHL's top mascot by a landslide

The players have spoken: Gritty is NHL's top mascot by a landslide

VOORHEES, N.J. — Gritty for 2020!

Put the big orange fella on a ballot and the victory is likely a landslide.

Just recently the NHL polled over 500 current players around the league on a number of topics, including the best NHL team mascot, and the vote wasn’t remotely close. Gritty snagged nearly 70 percent of the votes. The next-closest mascot was the Maple Leafs' Carlton the Bear receiving just 2.7 percent of the vote.  

Consider it poetic justice for Gritty.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux was also mentioned as one of the league's best trash talkers, finishing fourth among the players with 4.8 percent of the votes. Boston’s Brad Marchand was the top trash talker receiving 21.3 percent of the votes.

Interestingly, Marchand was also recognized as the game’s worst trash talker, to which he gave thanks on Twitter.

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid was named the best forward, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman took the nod as top defenseman and Montreal’s Carey Price was the league’s top goaltender.

Here’s a look at some of the other poll results: 

• Who is the most underrated player? Aleksander Barkov, Florida

• Who would make the best TV analyst once they retire? P.K. Subban, Nashville

• Who would make the best NHL GM once they retire? Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh

• Who is the funniest player? Keith Yandle, Florida

• Which arena has the best atmosphere? T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

• Which arena has the best ice? Bell Centre in Montreal

• Who is the best dressed player? Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

• Who has the best hair in the league? Erik Karlsson, San Jose

• Who is your favorite athlete outside of hockey? Tiger Woods

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Time for Flyers to face reality, start playing Samuel Morin and Cam Talbot

Time for Flyers to face reality, start playing Samuel Morin and Cam Talbot

VOORHEES, N.J. — It’s time for Scott Gordon and the Flyers to cash that reality check.

There will be no Stanley Cup Playoffs in Philadelphia this season. After Tuesday night’s loss to Montreal, those who calculate the odds now put the Flyers’ chances at less than one percent.

If the Blue Jackets stay on their current pace of 94 points, the Flyers would need to earn 17 of a possible 18 points in their final nine games to overtake Columbus in the standings.

Still, it’s not enough for Gordon to think about next season, considering the coach himself may not be here next season either.

“We’re in the same shoes that we’re in yesterday,” Gordon said Wednesday. “Nothing’s changed as far as the ladder we have to climb here. We’re six points behind going into it and we’re still six points behind. Is it possible that Columbus can go on a three-game losing streak and we go on a three-game winning streak? I think that’s very possible. So, until that element changes, it will be status quo.”

Of course, it’s not just the Blue Jackets the Flyers have to catch, but also the Canadiens, who increased the margin over the Flyers to five points.

Even if the Flyers fail to gain or even lose any ground in the standings, they won’t “officially” be eliminated until the first week of April.

In other words, don’t expect to see Samuel Morin suit up in Chicago or possibly anytime soon, and for those who are forecasting what this team could look like come next season, there’s a degree of frustration attached to that.

“Honestly, I’d love to play all of these games if it was me,” Morin said. “We’ll see what happens but, obviously, if we’re still in the playoff position I don’t think I’m going to get in. It’s just the way it is right now for me. I just can’t really do anything about it, right?” 

Morin is playing out the first year of a three-year extension he signed last summer and is one of five defensemen under contract for next season. However, since Morin is no longer waiver exempt, he can’t be shuffled between the Phantoms and Flyers without passing through waivers. With just three NHL games under his belt, the 6-foot-7 defenseman needs all the experience he can get moving forward.

“I’ve been doing this since training camp to be honest with you,” Morin said. “I know a lot of guys could not do this and keep a good mindset. It’s pretty hard watching all of hockey and not playing.”

Same can be said for pending free-agent goaltender Cam Talbot, who the Flyers acquired in a trade for Anthony Stolarz on Feb. 16. Talbot appears to be the perfect complement to Carter Hart heading into next season, but he has no indication that’s the case. 

There have been no preliminary discussions regarding a new contract even as he’s moved his family into Dale Weise’s South Jersey home on a temporary basis until he knows what the future holds.

Visa issues held up some prime opportunities for Talbot in late February, which in turn, has limited him to just 93 minutes of action since the trade. Eventually, the Flyers need to make a determination regarding a solid, competent backup to Hart.

However, I don’t think Talbot would have waived his no-trade clause if he could have foreseen the current situation.

And the longer it drags out, the more frustrations will amplify for those who are already looking ahead to 2019-20.

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