Flyers

Former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol hired by Maple Leafs as assistant coach

Former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol hired by Maple Leafs as assistant coach

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dave Hakstol is back in the NHL.

The former Flyers head coach was hired by the Maple Leafs on Saturday as an assistant coach. Hakstol's new job comes six and a half months after he was fired by the Flyers.

Hakstol will work under accomplished head coach Mike Babcock.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to join the Maple Leafs coaching staff," Hakstol said, via the Maple Leafs' official team website. "I look forward to building relationships with the players and getting to work with the entire group."

Toronto, loaded with talent, is coming off back-to-back seasons of 100 or more points but consecutive first-round playoff exits. The Maple Leafs feature plenty of youth in Auston Matthews (21 years old), Mitch Marner (if he's back; 22), Kasperi Kapanen (22), William Nylander (23) and Andreas Johnsson (24), to name a handful of guys.

Hakstol came to the Flyers fresh out of the college ranks from North Dakota. He was regarded as a coach who could mold younger players given his success with the Fighting Hawks.

In Philadelphia, Hakstol went 134-101-42 with a pair of first-round playoff exits over parts of four seasons. His fate as head coach became heavily ominous when former general manager Ron Hextall was suddenly fired in late November. After a disastrous road trip in December and with the Flyers (12-15-4) in last place of the Metropolitan Division, allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game (3.74), new general manager Chuck Fletcher relieved Hakstol of his duties.

"I came away tremendously impressed with Dave as a human being, but to my eyes, there was a disconnect between what he was preaching and how the players were playing," Fletcher said at the time. "As the leader of the team, that responsibility falls on him and I felt at this point, we needed a new voice.

"Dave tried, Dave was prepared, Dave's smart, Dave's a good coach."

Hakstol has the qualities that make you think he will be better off as an assisant coach at the NHL level. He is a detail-oriented, tireless worker.

"Dave Hakstol is one of the hardest-working people I know," Hextall said. "He's got a lot of respect around the league. You'd be shocked when I talk to my colleagues how much respect he has. He's a good coach."

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Watch here as Gritty goes full savage mode on the Houston Astros

Watch here as Gritty goes full savage mode on the Houston Astros

Wait, wait ... Gritty did what?

The past few weeks in MLB may go down as some of the craziest the league and fans have ever witnessed.  

And just about everyone has voiced their opinions on the matter ... and now it looks like Gritty has, too.

That's right, everyone's favorite mascot decided to go full savage mode and trade in his infamous drum for a trash can during the Flyers' win over the Penguins on Tuesday.

What was on the trash can, you ask?

Why, it's the Astros' logo on all four sides.

Way to go Gritty, you just broke the sports world once more (don't worry, we love it).

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After shutting out Sidney Crosby, Penguins, Flyers have taken down NHL's top 4 teams in span of 14 days

After shutting out Sidney Crosby, Penguins, Flyers have taken down NHL's top 4 teams in span of 14 days

BOX SCORE

The Flyers will confidently go into their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week knowing that they can beat the best teams in the NHL.

Especially after shutting out the Penguins, 3-0, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Over a span of 14 days, the Flyers have taken down the Capitals, Bruins, Blues and Penguins — the top four clubs in the NHL standings.

The Flyers (27-17-6) improved to 9-2-3 against the Metropolitan Division after going 10-16-2 against divisional opponents last season.

Alain Vigneault’s team is three points out of third place in the division, while the 60 points overall are the Flyers’ most through 50 games since 2011-12, when they started 30-14-6 and last won a playoff series.

The Penguins (31-14-5) were shut out for just the second time this season.

• The Flyers’ penalty kill has gone 25 for 28 over the last seven games, which included matchups with the Capitals, Lightning, Bruins, Blues and Penguins.

The Flyers went 5-2-0 during that stretch, in large thanks to the improved PK this season.

• Travis Konecny is surging into his first All-Star Game.

Through 47 games, the 22-year-old already has a new career high in assists with 26 after feeding James van Riemsdyk during the second period to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

At second intermission, Konecny sung the praises of Claude Giroux, who started the whole sequence.

"Everyone looks at the play when the goal happened, but it was one of the nicest plays that G has ever made was that play,” Konecny said. “It is such a heads-up play to lay the puck into an area like that."

Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting new career highs across the board.

Meanwhile, the new line of van Riemsdyk, Giroux and Konecny has starred in two games. Suffice it to say Giroux will be staying at center for at least a little longer.

• Jakub Voracek has looked like a force for a lengthy stretch.

Over his last 28 games going back to Nov. 23, the 30-year-old winger has put up 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) and a plus-14 rating.

Nobody can get on him for his defense right now. If you’ve watched, you’ve seen him skate, forecheck and make plays in the offensive zone on a nightly basis.

“Jake is coming on, like he tends to do,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said last Tuesday. “I remember when I got the job here last year, they were talking about how Jake was struggling and he had a pretty big second half, so he seems to be finding his legs.”

• Since returning from core muscle surgery, Sidney Crosby had eight points (three goals, five assists) in four games, while Evgeni Malkin had gone scoreless only twice over his last 19 games, a stretch in which he had put up 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists).

The Flyers held both stars scoreless and to only three shots.

• Brian Elliott has won three straight with 83 saves on 87 shots.

He has been terrific in Carter Hart’s absence.

Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, who entered 11-3-1 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .929 save percentage over his last 15 games, made 27 saves on 29 shots.

• Kevin Hayes has been a treat to watch on the penalty kill. Instead of quickly clearing the puck, which allows the opposing power play to restart, the 6-foot-5 center will often hold onto the puck to milk more seconds and force the opposition to take it away from him.

The strategy worked perfectly in the first period against the Penguins.

Since 2016-17, Hayes is fourth among all NHL players in shorthanded points with 14 (seven goals, seven assists), behind only Brad Marchand (17), Michael Grabner (16) and William Karlsson (15).

With each game, we’re seeing more and more why.

• Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher J.T. Realmuto took in the rivalry showdown.

Konecny will represent the Flyers at the NHL All-Star festivities this weekend in St. Louis.

The Flyers are off until next Thursday when they practice at 2 p.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before visiting the Penguins that Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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