Dave Hakstol says blame starts with him for Flyers' latest loss

Dave Hakstol says blame starts with him for Flyers' latest loss


If the Flyers have an emergency chute, now would be the time to pull the rip cord.

On Thursday night, their Metropolitan Division free fall picked up even more velocity following a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets, a team that has made up nine points in a span of just two weeks to pull even with the Flyers at 81 points (see observations).

If what we were watching was a skydiving exhibition, Dave Hakstol knew something wasn’t right from the moment his team left the plane. 

“I thought their team was a little bit more ready to play, and that squarely comes to me,” Hakstol said. “I thought their team was a little bit more ready to play in that first 20 minutes and that can’t happen this time of year.”

However, it’s been happening for much of this month. The Flyers have been outscored 11-5 in the opening period of their last eight games, and while it explains only part of their failures, poor starts are a contributing factor to their 1-6-1 record in the month of March.

“It was definitely just readiness,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “I think the biggest thing for us is to realize what time of year it is. We can’t have any slow starts to these games — then we’re just climbing an uphill battle the rest of the game, making it hard on ourselves.” 

The Blue Jackets scored three goals on eight shots, but the Flyers were so disjointed defensively, Columbus could have easily added another goal. The Blue Jackets' second score was a lost battle along the boards and a coverage breakdown that the Flyers have been guilty of on numerous occasions this season. 

“We were pretty loose in our coverage,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “Maybe our level of intensity and attention to detail wasn’t where it needed to be and we kind of had to scrap back into it. But obviously, too little, too late.”

With the score 4-2, Alex Lyon replaced Petr Mrazek three minutes and 23 seconds into the second period and proceeded to shut the door, but by then, the damage was done. Right now, the Flyers need exceptional play in net and they’re simply not getting it. 

“Petr didn’t give up a bad goal tonight, but you look for a timely save from your goaltender and that’s what we didn’t get in the first half of the game tonight,” Hakstol said.

“I thought the fourth one, a 3-on-1, if I was to make the save there, the game could be different,” Mrazek said. “I didn’t have any big saves in the first period. If that fourth one I would stop, I would probably get the momentum back and we would still have a chance.”

For a team that had its sight set on winning the division just two weeks ago, it's now in a dogfight for its playoff lives. 

“The real honest truth is 11 games to go, it’s an even race,” Hakstol said. “There’s eight spots to be had and we’re right there. I told our players after [the game], I’ll take that challenge and I’ll happily take that on with our group.

“Things haven’t gone well here over the last six to seven games. We know that. But it’s that time of year, you’ve got to be able to clear the deck, clear the mind and really get focused on the next challenge ahead.” 

But the Flyers' descent continues to gain speed. All you can do is look up, hold your breath and hope the landing isn’t catastrophic. 

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

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Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers. 

Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

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Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

Three young forwards will all be staying in the Flyers organization, at least for one more year.

Sunday, the team announced that Danick Martel accepted his qualifying offer on a one-year contract, and that restricted free agents Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne signed one-year deals.

Though the team didn't include any salary details, Martel's deal is reportedly a two-way contract worth $715,000.

The 23-year-old Martel made his NHL debut last season, finishing with no points and six shots over four games. He scored a career-best 25 goals for Lehigh Valley.

With Leier, the Flyers avoided a possible arbitration hearing. According to CapFriendly, Leier's contract is a one-way deal for $720,000. Leier's hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3. The team also earlier avoided a hearing with Alex Lyon, their other player who filed for arbitration, signing the goalie to a two-year deal.

A fourth-round selection in 2012, Leier had one goal and four assists in 39 regular-season games with the Flyers as a rookie.

Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, appeared in nine regular-season contests, with 15 hits.

Robert Hagg and Anthony Stolarz are now the team's two remaining restricted free agents. 

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