Flyers

Firing Ron Hextall wasn't about Dave Hakstol, but instead what the GM didn't quite get

Firing Ron Hextall wasn't about Dave Hakstol, but instead what the GM didn't quite get

Ed Snider was a go-for-it guy, known for his immense competitiveness and passion.

The Flyers were always going for it under Snider — and fans loved it.

Paul Holmgren has always shared that vision. If something was broke, you fix it. Show the Flyers are going for it — take action. 

By doing so, the fans were happy and their voices were heard. They supported the team and bought tickets because, well, the Flyers met their demands.

Ultimately, fans drive this whole thing.

So we can think of all the theories for why general manager Ron Hextall was fired Monday morning.

But this wasn't as much about Dave Hakstol or the coaching staff. 

It wasn't about the players assembled or Hextall's past moves.

This came down to the moves Hextall never made, damning inaction that cost him his whole process.

Statements released by teams regarding major decisions typically provide fluff and no substance. However, a part of Holmgren's was forthright and telling about his decision on Hextall.

It has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team. In light of these differences, we feel it's in the organization's best interests to make a change, effective immediately. 

Change.

A fitting term on a day that could have been avoided if change was previously made.

Hextall became a bit too obsessed with the long game. At times, the present was blinded by his patience, a judicious approach that appeared to disregard what was unfolding in the now, in front of everyone's eyes.

That prudence probably soured on Holmgren. Because you can bet Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott had a keen finger on the pulse of the fans during Hextall's run.

That's their job. This is a business and the fans are your prized investors.

The fans grew increasingly impatient with the GM's patience.

This season, the fifth under Hextall's watch, the Flyers were in last place of the Metropolitan Division at Thanksgiving for a second straight year. In many ways, they regressed, going from 21 points to 20 and a minus-2 goal differential to minus-11.

Currently, the Flyers have broken down in net and own an NHL-worst .880 save percentage. They've allowed the third-most goals per game at 3.57. Their power play is ranked 25th (15.7 percent) and the penalty kill 30th (69.7 percent).

These were problematic areas that went unaddressed in the offseason and remained untouched to date. No change, just trust within and push forward.

Some would call that patience and loyalty, others would deem it ignorance and unfit to run the general manager duties.

At the conclusion of last season, Hextall discussed pressure and its impact on his decision-making.

"We all have pressure," Hextall said in April. "Pro sports is pressure. There's pressure on all of us. Now how you handle that pressure, you better handle it right. My philosophy is I do what I believe is right.

"I'm not going to do something to make me popular. I'm not going to do something that's going to take away from the success of our team to put a few more people in the stands."

Hextall didn't feel the heat. He should have — it could have made a difference in a process that never quite went for it.

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Yikes! Flyers choke away 3-0 third-period lead for shootout loss to Islanders

usa_ivan_provorov_joel_farabee.jpg
USA Today Images/Eric Hartline

Yikes! Flyers choke away 3-0 third-period lead for shootout loss to Islanders

BOX SCORE

The Flyers choked away a 3-0 third-period lead Saturday night en route to a crushing 4-3 shootout loss at the hands of the Islanders.

The aftermath: an ugly and lost weekend.

Returning home to the Wells Fargo Center, head coach Alain Vigneault's team was in prime position to secure a noteworthy win following a befuddling letdown in Ottawa the night prior.

The Flyers wilted, though, in the final stanza, wasting away an opportunity for a quality win within the division. The Flyers (10-6-4) have lost three straight and gone to the shootout seven times this season because of blown leads and an inability to finish games.

After scoring two goals over their last two games, both losses, the Flyers were able to put up three on New York through two periods. The Islanders entered allowing the NHL's fewest goals per game at 2.29.

If only the Flyers kept their foot on the gas.

Give credit to the Islanders (14-3-1) for storming back and extending their point streak to 14 games (13-0-1). They took advantage of a too-many-men on the ice penalty in the third period and completely had the Flyers on their heels.

• The Flyers are at the 20-game mark and this was not how they wanted to reach it. While they look different this season, they are still maddeningly inconsistent at times.

Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes went scoreless against New York.

It's a good thing when others are producing, but the Flyers will need to get their big boys going with the others. It hasn't happened yet and the team's record reflects it.

• Brian Elliott came in and out of his crease quite often Saturday night. He had a weird game as he made some timely saves but fell flat in the third period.

That's when they really needed him.

• Oskar Lindblom has arguably been the Flyers' best forward 20 games into the year. The 23-year-old plays on both special teams units and has nine goals and seven assists.

Other NHL players with nine goals so far: Patrick Kane, Sebastian Aho and T.J. Oshie.

Lindblom had a two-point effort Saturday, marking his third multi-point game of the season after having four all of last season.

He has run away with the opportunity given to him by Vigneault and company.

• The new line of Lindblom, Joel Farabee and Sean Couturier features plenty of intrigue.

The group opened the game's scoring just 1:38 into the action when Lindblom found Couturier, who had a two-point performance himself. The Flyers were 12-5-2 when Couturier had a multi-point game last season.

Lindblom, Couturier and Farabee combined for five points. It still wasn't enough, which is troubling.

• Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere have been flip-flopping on the first and second power play units. Provorov was moved off the first group in Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Senators.

"Provy started off, he had three turnovers in the first 10 minutes, made a switch," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "Ghost seemed to me that he was playing a little bit better. If you want to play, you’ve got to make the plays."

Provorov made one on the man advantage Saturday to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the opening frame. He has four goals and nine assists in 20 games. Last season, he had four goals and eight assists through 40 games. The addition of Matt Niskanen has been huge for the 22-year-old defenseman.

• A little over two hours before puck drop, Vigneault said the Flyers had lineup decisions to make regarding some players nursing minor injuries.

The club's full roster took warmups. Afterward, Philippe Myers and Carsen Twarynski were the scratches as Robert Hagg and Chris Stewart played in their spots.

It's uncertain why the Flyers went that route. Vigneault said postgame that both Myers and Twarynski were healthy.

Myers will be back in the lineup. The 22-year-old defenseman has been great with three goals, an assist and a plus-7 mark in eight games since being called up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Twarynski, a 21-year-old forward, is in a more precarious spot with Scott Laughton (broken finger) nearing his return from long-term injured reserve. Laughton could be back as soon as next Saturday's game against the Flames.

• The Flyers rocked military appreciation jerseys during warmups.

• The Flyers are off Sunday and practice Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before traveling to Florida for a matchup Tuesday with Joel Quenneville's Panthers (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers vs. Islanders: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Islanders: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers are hoping some home cooking can serve as the remedy for their sudden scoring troubles.

Sparking the offense will not come easily Saturday when the Flyers (10-6-3) host the Islanders (13-3-1).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers' goal-scoring difficulty crept up rather quietly because the team was playing well, beating quality clubs and on a seven-game point streak.

The issue became much more recognizable when the point streak was halted Friday night by a 2-1 loss to the Senators (see observations).

After scoring 3.27 goals per game over their first 15 games, the Flyers have put up just 1.50 in their past four. They've lost two straight games, scoring only one goal in each outing.

• Why won't it get any easier?

Because Barry Trotz and the Islanders are in town. New York is on a 13-game point streak (12-0-1) and allowing just two goals per game during that stretch. Overall, the Islanders surrender the NHL's fewest goals per game at 2.29.

However, New York has played only five road games — the fewest in the NHL — compared to 12 home games. The Flyers have earned at least a point in eight of nine home games (6-1-2) and are scoring 3.67 goals per game at home.

• Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, who is 7-1-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average and .942 save percentage, doesn't have great career numbers against the Flyers: 6-4-2, 3.35 GAA, .897 save percentage.

• Playing a back-to-back set, the Flyers did not skate this morning, so it's uncertain how the lineup will look exactly.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Joel Farabee-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Carsen Twarynski
Andy Andreoff-Michael Raffl-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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