Los Angeles Kings

Former Flyers GM Ron Hextall finds new job with Los Angeles Kings

Former Flyers GM Ron Hextall finds new job with Los Angeles Kings

Former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has found a new job in the NHL. 

Hextall has been hired as a part-time advisor to hockey operations for the Los Angeles Kings, the team announced Wednesday.

Fired by the Flyers in November after a poor start to the 2018-19 season, Hextall, a former goalie who played 489 games with the Flyers, served as general manager for four-plus seasons.

At the time, then-president Paul Holmgren said, "it has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team."

The Flyers did not win a playoff series under Hextall, going 165-128-58 and losing twice in the first round.

The team relieved head coach Dave Hakstol of his duties in December. Chuck Fletcher took over Hextall's position, and he hired Alain Vigneault in April as head coach.

Hextall said in November he was "proud" of the groundwork he built as general manager, and that he believes the team is "poised to do something great." 

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Flyers 'lucky to get one point' as win streak comes to halt

Flyers 'lucky to get one point' as win streak comes to halt

You can live on borrowed time for only so long.

The Flyers' eight-game winning streak was anything but perfect. 

In two of their last three games, the Flyers put themselves in position to fight back and tie the game in the third period. And in three of those eight games, they had to rally from two-goal deficits.

Against the Kings Thursday night, the Flyers were forced to play catch-up once again, and it eventually caught up to them in a 3-2 shootout loss (see observations).

Jakub Voracek snapped a shot over Jonathan Quick’s shoulder with 18 seconds remaining to force overtime, which gave the appearance the Flyers could mask their blemishes from the previous 59 minutes, especially the opening 20. 

The Flyers were actually celebrating a ninth straight win until video review conclusively determined that Adrian Kempe's shootout attempt hit the back of the net and not the crossbar.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think we even deserved a point,” Voracek said. “I think it was our luckiest game out of those last nine. We were lucky to get one point.”

Which is truly unfortunate. 

The Kings came into this game as the worst team in the West and an organization that had just traded one of its best defensemen to Toronto a week earlier. Los Angeles was also playing its third game in four nights, and yet the Flyers appeared like the tired team in the first period.

“I think it was about us only,” Voracek said. “I think we were reaching for the pucks instead of just taking one more step, and just swinging at pucks and turning them over instead of taking one more step and making a hard play.”

Which is why the Flyers were outshot, 31-20, after two periods and were heavily outnumbered in scoring chances, 23-10. Throughout the eight-game winning streak, the numbers had been working against the Flyers, except for the final score. They had been outshot by an average of 37-28. 

Still, the one constant over this stretch of hockey has been the impressive degree of consistency in goal. With Carter Hart receiving a rare night off, Anthony Stolarz turned in another outstanding effort with 37 saves, coming off a 1-0 shutout over the Rangers on Jan. 29.

“We weren’t sharp on details, but whatever the score was, Stolie gave us a chance,” Sean Couturier said. “He made us believe and we battled back to get a big point. Down the road, it might be huge.”

Considering the depth of the hole they dug throughout the first half of the season, the Flyers can’t begin to squander any more points. 

They all matter, including the one that slipped away in the shootout as the Flyers now find themselves eight points back of the Penguins for that final wild-card spot.

The streak may be over, but we’ll discover soon if all that confidence can be carried over.

“Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned,” interim head coach Scott Gordon said.

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Kings 3, Flyers 2 (SO): Late magic falls short as win streak comes to end at 8 games

Kings 3, Flyers 2 (SO): Late magic falls short as win streak comes to end at 8 games

BOX SCORE

The NHL's hottest team was finally cooled off but it took six rounds into a shootout.

Jakub Voracek scored with 18 seconds remaining in regulation before the Kings' Tyler Toffoli won it, 3-2, in the shootout, snapping the Flyers' eight-game winning streak Thursday night.

Anthony Stolarz stopped 37 shots in the loss, including a miraculous attempt that helped the Flyers force the skills competition.

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• After undressing Kings All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty and hitting the post with a shot, Voracek got his revenge with a beautiful cross-ice pass from Claude Giroux to earn the Flyers a point and send the game to overtime.

• There have been significant improvements in Shayne Gostisbehere’s defensive play with interim head coach Scott Gordon changing up the pairings. Over his previous eight games, "Ghost" has seen easier matchups and hasn't been forced to defend the opposition’s top lines, posting a plus-8 rating.

However, the opening goal is one example of a simple play from the Kings' fourth line that Gostisbehere has to defend better. Andrew MacDonald fell down, which allowed Austin Wagner (who scored the goal) to get behind the defense off an offensive zone faceoff.

I think Gostisbehere’s biggest liability is his lack of speed. While he has quick lateral movements, his acceleration simply isn’t quick enough to make up for times when he gets caught defensively or needs to rush back to cover an odd-man rush. That was clearly evident as Gostisbehere couldn’t skate back fast enough to break up the Kings' 3-on-1 rush leading to Adrian Kempe’s 2-1 goal in the second period.

• Perhaps Sean Couturier’s best attribute is his selflessness. Gordon talked about that quality during Thursday’s morning skate after the center was taken off the top power play. Couturier took the lesser role in stride as he typically does with the attitude of whatever’s best for the team.

He has been the Flyers' most important forward throughout the nine-game point streak with a goal in three straight games and seven of his last 10. 

• Stolarz looked very solid in his first game action since Jan. 29, when he shut out the Rangers, 1-0, at MSG. The Flyers' porous defense saw the Kings produce 18 shots in the opening period, with L.A. winning most of the puck battles and board battles.

The scoring chances were a lopsided 23-10 in favor of L.A. through two periods. The Kings also had a fourth line with Wagner and Kyle Clifford that plays just as much as their second line, and it had as many quality scoring chances as the Kings' first line. 

• Giroux has played some monster minutes, averaging nearly 22 minutes over his last 11 games, and the coaching staff is really leaning on him on the power play. The captain played all two minutes of the Flyers' third-period power play and finished over 24 minutes in this game.   

• Gordon talked about the frustrations of Scott Laughton and his goalless drought that has now reached 23 games dating back to mid-December. Laughton failed to connect on a penalty shot against Vancouver Monday. Early in the first period, Laughton was on the doorstep when his stick was tied up coming off Ivan Provorov’s broken-stick slap shot.

Gordon told Laughton to keep doing all the little things that make him a solid two-way player and don’t worry about the scoring. There are plenty of other guys who can score.

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