Dave Hakstol delivers challenge to Flyers: 'Let's sack up'

Dave Hakstol delivers challenge to Flyers: 'Let's sack up'

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dave Hakstol pays little attention to outside noise.

He's an internally motivated head coach — patient just like his general manager and not easily swayed by external pressure.

But that doesn't mean he never gets pissed off. He's not oblivious to reality. He may not hear the cries or see the pitchforks that rise with the fans when things go wrong, but he understands the emotion of adversity.

He's far from immune to it.

At 4-6-0, the Flyers have their most regulation losses through the first 10 games of a season since 2013-14, when they started 3-7-0. They've allowed an NHL-high 40 goals. Their netminders sport an .865 save percentage, tied for last in hockey, while only two teams own a worse goal differential than their minus-9.

Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the Bruins was the newest and most poignant frustration to the 2018-19 season.

Hakstol, in his fourth season, this one bringing the highest of expectations, delivered what sounded like a real challenge to his players.

He needs more. He wants more. He expects more, just like everybody else.

This challenge was felt.

"My message is this: Let's go and be a little bit better, let's give each other that push and that boost and that confidence," Hakstol said Friday after practice at Flyers Skate Zone. "Hey, let's go to battle, let's sack up a little here and let's go get it done. And that's what's going to get us going in the right direction."

Change is often what's demanded when wins aren't being produced or play is not up to standards. Part of Hakstol's next change will be in net Saturday afternoon against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers will turn to Michal Neuvirth, who is set to make his season debut. The oft-injured goalie has been out since Sept. 21 with a lower-body ailment.

When asked if a goalie switch could jump-start the Flyers, Hakstol became passionate. It would be silly to lean on an injury-plagued Neuvirth to play savior, but the bench boss is certainly looking for something — anyone — to fuel the Flyers' fire.

He made that abundantly clear.

"We don't need a goaltender to go in and necessarily be the spark. That's not what we're asking, we're going to ask everybody to go out and do their job," Hakstol said. "But somebody's got to be the spark. I'll guarantee you that. Somebody's got to be the spark to push us in the right direction. 

"I don't know whether that will be a goaltender or a defenseman or one of our forwards. I don't know if that's going to be a great defensive play or a highlight-reel goal or a big save, but yeah, we need a spark from an area of our lineup to just push us in the right direction. That's what builds some of the confidence and some of the swagger that we're talking about."

Hakstol sounds ready to sack up. The fans are ready for it. He believes his players are, too.

"I think we have what we need inside of our dressing room," Hakstol said. "I believe we have a good team. I wholeheartedly believe we have a good team.

"I don't believe there are drastic changes that need to be made. I look at our team, and I just don't think that's the case. If I saw holes, I would tell you what I thought. I think there's enough here and then some."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19


Despite putting up 21 goals over their five-game winning streak, the Flyers had a propensity to score them in bunches when an opponent started derailing.

On Thursday night, the Flyers never got going and were pulled back to earth in a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was the biggest difference. The 6-foot-5 netminder who brought an NHL-best 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to Philly stopped 28 shots.

With 4:43 left, Matt Niskanen scored the Flyers' lone goal and it ricocheted off a Coyote. Arizona iced the game with an empty-netter (see highlights).

The Flyers (16-8-5) suffered just their second regulation loss at home (9-2-4). The last time they failed to pick up a point at home was Oct. 19 when they lost to the Stars, 4-1.

Thursday night's defeat halted the Flyers' winning streak at five games and their point streak at seven. The Flyers had earned at least a point in 18 of their previous 22 games.

The Coyotes (17-9-4), who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.31, improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

• The Flyers went on two power plays in the final six minutes of the second period but could not solve Kuemper.

During those two man advantage opportunities, the Flyers put five shots on Kuemper and also misfired three times.

James van Riemsdyk found Morgan Frost with a slick backhanded pass from behind the net but the 20-year-old missed wide.

• Speaking of Frost, he had a tough game. The rookie had a turnover and some difficulty making plays.

He has gone scoreless over his last seven games following his loud start in which he scored three points in his first two games.

Maybe head coach Alain Vigneault takes him off the first line to relieve some pressure.

"Young player, in my estimation, has got a lot of confidence in himself, which is real good," Vigneault said postgame. "Tonight, there were a couple of plays with the puck, like some of our other guys, that the execution might have been a little bit off. But I think overall, the young man is working hard and trying to get better."

Will he stay on the top line?

"I'm going to watch the game and make [changes], if I have some changes to make, [Friday]," Vigneault said. "I like what the young man can bring to the game."

• Vigneault opted to play seven defensemen instead of slotting call-up Mikhail Vorobyev in at fourth-line center.

It's not a bad approach when you have seven healthy blueliners playing well. It also could mean the Flyers aren't ready to trust Vorobyev on the fourth line again.

The Senators game on Saturday looks like a better matchup for Vorobyev, who is in his fifth stint with the club since the start of last season.

• Brian Elliott hadn't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. The Flyers' backup goalie finished with 15 saves.

He allowed a first-period power play goal to Phil Kessel after Claude Giroux was whistled for a ticky-tacky slashing penalty. He then yielded a backbreaking third-period goal to Conor Garland with 7:03 left in the game.

The goalie was not the problem, though.

Sean Couturier was not a problem, either.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday when they welcome the Senators (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Next week, the team opens a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).


Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

The 13 Philly-inspired ornaments you need this year

The 13 Philly-inspired ornaments you need this year

If you live in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, it's safe to say there's at least one ornament on your tree representing the city — whether it be a memento from a previous championship Philly has seen, famous landmarks or even the skyline, you're repping one way or another.

Throw everything you thought you knew about Philly ornaments out the window and make way for Jawnaments ... yes, you read that correctly.

Jawnaments. I swear, there is no place like Philadelphia.

Jawnaments is an Etsy shop that has been around since 2017 but they recently released a ton of non-traditional Philadelphia-inspired ornaments. And they're a thing of beauty.

Can you only function throughout the week because of the daily coffee you grab at Wawa and want to highlight that on your tree this year? They've got you covered.

Haven't received a parking ticket in the city in a while and just miss the stress and anxiety they bring with them? Yup, they've got that covered too.

The Tastykake Krimpet and Kandy Kake ornaments look good enough to eat ... even a classic soft pretzel with yellow mustard is an option.

And since Gritty is just about everywhere in the world ... it he. On an ornament. Oh sorry, *Jawnament.

Trust me, there are a ton of other options but you're just going to have to check out the full shop to see the beauty of it all.

You might even have to get a mini tree that's dedicated to the city you know and love. Heck, keep it up all year!

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers