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Canucks 5, Flyers 1: Could this be the end for Dave Hakstol?

Canucks 5, Flyers 1: Could this be the end for Dave Hakstol?

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A year after the Flyers turned around their season in Western Canada, this trip may have cost Dave Hakstol his job (see story).

The Flyers turned in another dreadful effort Saturday night in a 5-1 loss to the Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The Canucks scored three times in the first 11-plus minutes.

The Flyers were swept in Western Canada, losing three games in four days.

Can you believe the Flyers lost yet another goalie to an injury and what should we make of Hakstol’s line combinations?

• I’m not sure what Hakstol’s thought process was with these new-look lines. Nolan Patrick goes from fourth-line checking center back to the second line, where he has just one point in his last 13 games. Jordan Weal and Jori Lehtera, two healthy scratches for the majority of this trip, are your third- and-fourth-line centers. James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny on a third line. It’s as if the coach threw darts on a dartboard. That third line was a big head-scratcher with no real defensive presence and very little time in the offensive zone.

• The Flyers had some real jump in the first three minutes but all of that was zapped once the Canucks scored the opening goal. As Shayne Gostisbehere stated after the Oilers' loss, the Flyers get “down on themselves” when trailing and they turn into a “negative bunch.”

• Somehow, the Flyers made Chris Tanev look like the next coming of Erik Karlsson as he took the puck from just inside the blue line and weaved his way through the Flyers' defense from the high slot and roofed a backhand shot over the shoulder of Anthony Stolarz. Tanev hadn’t scored a goal in his first 29 games, and yet Wayne Simmonds simply can’t allow that play to happen and his feeble attempt at defense was unacceptable.

• The Flyers pulled Stolarz after allowing two goals on four shots. Loui Eriksson’s goal was one Stolarz should have stopped as he was slow to react, perhaps the result of an injury. However, there were breakdowns galore leading up to that point. Gostisbehere was busy chasing and skating in circles during that entire sequence with the puck in the Flyers' zone and Weal completely overskated the rebound. 

• As for Weal, he could have had both loose puck opportunities on the Canucks' second and third goals. On the 2-0 goal, it appeared Weal completely overskated the puck and ran into Gostisbehere. On the 3-0 goal, Weal took a bad angle and wasn’t positioned between the puck and Josh Leivo, who fired a sharp-angled shot that certainly Alex Lyon should have stopped. Right now, there are very few forwards I trust to do their job in the defensive end of the ice.

• Apparently, Stolarz suffered some type of lower-body injury and was not on the bench for the Flyers to begin the second period. The Flyers resorted to having Rylan Toth on standby, an emergency backup goaltender supplied by Vancouver’s hockey ops department. The 22-year-old Toth plays for the University of British Columbia and was only on hand in the event something happened to Lyon.

• As for Tuesday’s game against the Red Wings, right now it appears Michal Neuvirth is in line to make the start after leaving Thursday to be with his wife, who’s expecting the birth of their child.

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If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

There has been a ton of drama only three games into the Western Conference Final between the Sharks and Blues.

Game 3 was won by the Sharks, 5-4, in overtime, but not without controversy. San Jose may have gotten away with a hand pass on the game-winning goal.

The series will shift one way or the other Friday night with Game 4.

Below is the schedule for Day 37 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (SJS 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here