Dave Hakstol

Tough-to-predict Flyers drop a game they had, fall in 11-round shootout

Tough-to-predict Flyers drop a game they had, fall in 11-round shootout


The Flyers are still impossible to predict so far.

The team couldn't hold a 3-2 third-period lead Saturday night and eventually lost to the Maple Leafs, 4-3, after an 11-round shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (6-5-2) had a power play in overtime but failed to generate much with it. Travis Konecny, who was the only Flyer to score in the skills competition, was denied on a breakaway in the final minute of the bonus session.

This was the Flyers' third back-to-back set of 17 this season. They are 0-2-1 in the second game of such situations.

A positive for the Flyers: Following consecutive ugly losses to divisional opponents, the team picked up three of a possible four points its next two games.

Andreas Johnsson delivered the shootout winner for the Maple Leafs (7-5-3).

• Coming into the season, it looked like the Flyers' defensemen were going to make or break the team's fortunes and that storyline still rings true.

When the blueliners are good, the Flyers are scoring and dictating tempo. When they're not sharp, they're losing 1-on-1 battles, making mistakes with the puck and breakdowns ensue.

So far, the Flyers' defensemen have been inconsistent. It's no coincidence the team has been, too.

• This felt like a big night for Claude Giroux, who entered with 33 points in 34 career games against Toronto. The Maple Leafs' up-and-down style plays to his strengths. Against Toronto, the Flyers' captain put up his second multi-point game of the season with an assist and this nasty power play goal.

Jakub Voracek was good, too, in his second game after head coach Alain Vigneault challenged the two vets to lead with top-end play.

However, things went somewhat quiet in the final stanza.

• Joel Farabee truly can play anywhere in the lineup. He climbed to the top line and was superb alongside Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. The 19-year-old was making plays and knows how to complement talented linemates. He committed a costly penalty when the Flyers went on the power play with a 3-2 lead in the third, an infraction that led to Mitchell Marner's 4-on-4 goal.

The goal was avoidable, though, if Sean Couturier and the Flyers were cleaner through the neutral zone and Matt Niskanen didn't get beat on the play.

Overall, more positives from Farabee a game after he scored his first career goal in clutch fashion.

• The Flyers shouldn't be overly concerned with Travis Sanheim but it is puzzling to see the 23-year-old have this much trouble skating. He has fallen down in back-to-back games on an opposition's goal and three times this season.

He appeared to be fighting himself in the first period. On one play, Sanheim had an opportunity to hold the blue line but was hesitant and started backpedaling.

What do you know, Sanheim redeemed himself with a go-ahead goal early in the third period. He let out a huge fist pump as the play had to be massive for his psyche.

The 2014 first-round pick was arguably the Flyers' best defenseman in 2018-19 and didn't just forget how to skate. Sanheim will be fine but his confidence is worth monitoring (see story).

• Ivan Provorov replaced a struggling Shayne Gostisbehere on the Flyers' first-unit power play and wasted no time delivering during the first period. He pinballed a shot through traffic to erase the Maple Leafs' 1-0 lead and salvage the opening frame for the Flyers, who were toyed with by Toronto's speed and pressure. He tacked on a power play assist in the second period.

Provorov will put a stranglehold on that role if he continues to produce. Thirteen games into 2019-20, the 22-year-old already has a new career high in man advantage points with six (two goals, four assists). As Gostisbehere still tries to find his game, Provorov might have the first-unit quarterback spot until he shows he doesn't deserve it.

• Couturier took 10 faceoffs and won four of them after losing his only three draws Friday night. He's not 100 percent healthy but good enough to play — and help — right now.

The Flyers have 16 games this month, so it's a tough stretch. He's gutting it out and any day off will be vital.

• After allowing six goals through two periods against the Penguins, Brian Elliott was fine with 23 saves. He gave the Flyers a chance in the crazy shootout.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey, and host the Hurricanes Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Dave Hakstol returns as Alain Vigneault faces similar situation with Flyers

Dave Hakstol returns as Alain Vigneault faces similar situation with Flyers

Last season, Dave Hakstol asked his Flyers to “sack up.” The team was 4-6-0 through 10 games, giving up the NHL’s most goals and Hakstol pleaded for a spark.

The former Flyers head coach returns to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night as an assistant with the Maple Leafs. A year later, Hakstol’s successor finds himself in a similar spot. Eleven games into 2019-20, Alain Vigneault is staring at his new team and challenging it, looking for a response just like his predecessor did.

Vigneault took the Flyers’ job in April because he believed in the potential. A head coach with two Stanley Cup Final appearances, Vigneault saw another sincere shot at the sport’s pinnacle achievement right here in Philadelphia.

Watching the Flyers get convincingly outworked and outplayed in consecutive losses to divisional opponents was not a part of his vision. He feels the Flyers are capable of much more and not many would disagree with that assertion.

The Flyers followed up an uneven 5-3 loss to the Islanders with an embarrassing 7-1 defeat to the Penguins. They finished October 5-5-1 and are a combined 31-38-7 during the season’s opening month over the past seven years.

In particular, Vigneault wants his established players to set the bar.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to push the reset button here,” Vigneault told reporters Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. “Our leaders have to lead by their play on the ice. We’re going to go home, reset and get ready for the next game.

“There’s no doubt in my mind and there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that we’re a much better team than we’ve shown the last couple of games.”

Will the Flyers answer his call? They’ve got a fair challenge.

Vigneault is looking at his veterans who have been here before. The Flyers’ core has been given chances, it has gone through different head coaches and seasons.

This head coach might be its best bet to prove itself. The Flyers are nowhere close to panic mode, when everyone on the outside questions everything on the inside. This season, the Flyers have better depth at forward (even with injuries), two accomplished defensemen and their goalie of the future coming into the present.

They’ve made strides in special teams, scoring and goal prevention.

Through 11 games last season, the Flyers allowed a league-high 46 goals, scored 31, had the 24th-ranked power play (15 percent) and the worst-ranked penalty kill (67.5 percent).

Through 11 games this season, the Flyers have allowed 37 goals, scored 36, have the 10th-ranked power play (23.8 percent) and sixth-ranked penalty kill (85.3 percent).

But October wasn’t a whole lot different from years past.

And once again, the head coach is expecting much more.

It’s time for the Flyers to answer the call.

Following another divisional game Friday night against the Devils in New Jersey, the Flyers return home Saturday night to face the Maple Leafs.

Behind the Flyers’ bench, Vigneault will continue to look for his challenge to be met.

One of the coaches on the opposing bench will know how he feels.

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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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