Flyers

Flyers hire Dave Hakstol as head coach

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Flyers hire Dave Hakstol as head coach

After a month-long search, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has found his guy.

The Flyers on Monday named Dave Hakstol from the University of North Dakota as their 19th head coach in franchise history replacing Craig Berube.

Two sources told CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio that the Flyers did not ask to speak with Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, but did interview Todd McLellan at the world championships before hiring Hakstol. 

Hakstol, 46, comes to the Flyers with no NHL experience, but he’s spent the last 11 years coaching at UND, where he coached several NHL players. Among those are Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Drew Stafford, Travis Zajac and Matt Greene, as well as Hextall’s son, Brett Hextall.

"In watching my son over the years, I grew an appreciation for Dave [and] the way he coached," Hextall said at Monday afternoon's press conference. "I've thought about him long before this as a head coach in the National Hockey League. I believe he was destined for it. He's got a lot of pro qualities. He's got a lot of experience as a head coach."

That said, Hextall admitted of all the candidates he considered, the guy he "need to get to know the most" was Hakstol. The two talked over a four-day span.

"Everything checked out the way we hoped it would check out," Hextall said. "I had a list of things that I wanted from a head coach and went down this checklist in my mind, and every box was checked except for NHL experience. And quite frankly for me, that was the one that was the least important. It's no different from a rookie player or a rookie coach. Does Dave have things to learn? Absolutely. He'll be the first to admit it.

"Every head coach in the NHL at some point is a rookie, right? That's reality. Some of them go through the American League. Some of them don't. Some of them are NHL assistant coaches, and quite frankly, if you said to me, 'You can bring in an NHL assistant coach, you can bring in a guy that's been in college for 11 years as a head coach. I'll take the head coaching experience. That's the valuable part.

"If Dave had never been a head coach — different conversation. But being a head coach, being the guy in charge, making the tough decisions, putting your lines together, the gut feels you have on putting guys out there at the right time — he's got all that experience. Yes, it's at a different level, but that's valuable experience." 

Hakstol leaves North Dakota with a 289-143-43 record in 475 games. Last season, North Dakota made the Frozen Four, but lost to Boston University. North Dakota went 29-10-3 in the regular season last year.

While he's had tremendous success at the college level, Hakstol acknowledged he'll have to make some changes now that he's dealing with NHL players, but he's going to stick with what earned him appearances in the NCAA Tournament during his entire tenure at North Dakota, including seven trips to the Frozen Four.

What's more, his teams have produced 20 NHL players and 46 professionals overall. He coached Chris VandeVelde, who has played 90 games with the Flyers the last two seasons, and Derek Forbort, whom the Kings drafted when Hextall was the assistant general manager in L.A.

"There's going to be several adjustments along the way, but I think No. 1, I believe in what we do and I believe in the things that I do, and I'm not going to change that as I come to this level," Hakstol said. "I think maybe the delivery of the message may be a little bit different. Certainly, the fact that I do not have experience at this level, I'm not going to pretend what I do.

"But I do have an awful lot of confidence in terms of knowing the game well, knowing how to relate and communicate with players — and that's one of the first things as I get started here, and probably one of the most important things as we move through the summer, is communicating with and getting to know a lot of our players, and that's going to start to build the foundation of the plan that we have moving forward."

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

BOX SCORE

From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers.

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

As one of the NHL's best teams since Nov. 1 (12-3-4, 28 points), the Flyers now face a new challenge.

Alain Vigneault's undermanned group begins a three-game road trip Wednesday as the Flyers (17-8-5) visit the Avalanche (19-8-3).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pepsi Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• The Flyers are without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Oskar Lindblom (upper body, out tonight), Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

"Injuries are a part of a season. You have to expect it," Vigneault said Monday. "Then you need somebody else to step up."

More than ever this season, the Flyers will be looking to Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk to produce among the forwards.

The Flyers are 10-2-1 when Hayes records a point and 9-1-0 when van Riemsdyk records a point.

• Not only are the Flyers severely shorthanded Wednesday night, but they're also facing the NHL's highest-scoring club. The Avalanche lead the league with 3.70 goals per game. Their top line of Nathan MacKinnon (47 points in 30 games), Mikko Rantanen (18 points in 14 games) and Gabriel Landeskog (nine points in 14 games) is scary.

"We know going into Colorado, we're going to have to be careful versus their top unit," Vigneault said Tuesday. "[Monday] night, they seemed to load up. That's one of the best lines in hockey."

• Carter Hart will face the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

The 21-year-old goalie is 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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