Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 31: PHI 1, VAN 5 - The End
And now we wait.
I think you already know for what.
In what is almost certainly the final game in Dave Hakstol's tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Orange and Black fittingly lose to a struggling, mediocre Vancouver Cancuks squad by a final score of 5-1, which is almost the same as the ratio of years coached by Dave Hakstol: years coached by Dave Hakstol where things went well.
Over the course of this season, and in Dave Hakstol's career, the Flyers have had a knack for pulling themselves out of the abyss as the last possible second. There have been numerous occasions over the last 720 days where it looked like Hakstol's job was on the line, but each time his team has delivered a win to ease the tension and keep him in good graces. The 10-game losing streak was the only exception to this rule, as it seemed like Hak had surely run his course. But yet again, given one last chance to save him, the Flyers rattled off 6 straight wins to save his job.
As I mentioned on Wednesday, the Western Canada road trip is becoming the saving grace for Flyers seasons. They came into both this year's trip and lasts struggling, with the pressure of inevitable change looming should they not succeed. It simultaneously ended the 10-game losing streak and started a half dozen win streak of its own, proving the Flyers weren't a bad team. This year? 3 embarrassing losses, 1 point of out a possible 6, and a relegation to the very bottom of the Eastern Conference. This trip has put the final nail in Dave Hakstol's coffin, and maybe the 2018-19 Flyers season as a whole as well.
The series finale of Dave Hakstol: What Are You Doing? featured the good (Nolan w/ Giroux, Sanheim on top pair with Provy), bad (starting Stollie on the 2nd half of a back-to-back), and ugly (benching of rookies like Lindblom, failure to optimize lineup, poor special teams) that plagued Hak's tenure. The game itself played out as a story of Hak's tenure as well. The Flyers found themselves down 3-0 nine minutes in, with Anthony Stolarz pulled after giving up 2 goals on 4 shots, and, oh yeah, getting hurt, just like every other goalie Hak has coached (that's why you don't start them on both halves of a f*cking back-to-back, Dave).
From there, the Flyers tried to show some fight, outshooting Vancouver 32-24 in the game, 22-16 in the final 40 minutes and being given plenty of chances to get back into the game in the form of 4 power play opportunities. And they failed to secure tangible success, which combined with the lack of timely goaltending put the game out of reach.
It may sound weird to say this after a 5-1 loss, the Flyers 4th straight L, but this game fills me with hope. Hope that Chuck Fletcher has seen all he needs to seen, that Quenneville or whoever he brings in (not Mike Yeo) will be able to take this team to far grander pastures that Dave Hakstol could ever dream of going. While I'm usually in favor of hiring a younger, forward thinking guy, bringing in someone who knows how to win in this league (cough cough Quenneville) would be welcome, as it was clear that was one of Dave Hakstol's biggest flaws.
What happened in this game hardily manners. All that does it what happens next. In all likelihood, I will be putting out an article breaking down Dave Hakstol's tenure sometime in the next 2 days in the wake of his termination. The only real question is where the buck stops. You may not be able to handle the truth about this team, but you better be ready to handle the change.
The reason I said I thought Lyon was starting Saturday wasn't just common sense - the Flyers themselves tweeted it out, then deleted the tweet with one saying Stollie would be in. Almost like someone made the decision to start Lyon, then was overruled. Sure smells like turmoil to me.
The only real positive of this game was an end-to-end goal by Scott Laughton in the 1st period, easily Scotty Laughts' best in the NHL. For all the constant positional changes from left wing to center that Hak put him threw, Laughton was one of the few players whom Hak may have influenced positively long-term.
As mentioned above, Stolarz left the game with a lower-body injury, forcing the recently recalled Alex Lyon to the ice, with UBC goalie Rylan Toth standing on the bench ready to be the next Scott Foster (he never got the chance).
Currently 29th in the standings, which do you think is more likely - the Flyers get Jack Hughes, or the Flyers make the playoffs this year?
Another important question: with 4 goalies down (although Neuvy isn't hurt), will Carter Hart have to be called up to backup (or even play, but that's extremely doubtful) Tuesday? My gut says no, but he is on the up-and-up, for what it's worth.
Seriously, look for that Hak breakdown in the next 2 days - I'm licking my chops just thinking about it.
1st - J. Markstrom (VAN) - .969 SV% (31 Saves/32 Shots)
2nd - B. Boeser (VAN) - 1 G, 1 A
3rd - T. Stetcher (VAN) - 2 A
PHI - See Title
VAN - 12/16 vs. EDM (18-12-3)