I hate when people blame the refs.
Because even if they make bad calls, the team could have done one of 100 things to not be in that position. Yet, sometimes, it really is justified.
I feel similar to coaches.
Players need to play. Coaches can only do so much when it come to preparing and in-game management, but players need to perform. Yet, sometimes, it starts behind the bench.
And with the Flyers right now, that’s where I think it starts.
When Dave Hakstol got hired, I loved that Ron Hextall went outside of the organization. I was excited for something fresh and new and though I knew nothing about Hakstol, I was more than ready to give him the chance.
But now that we’re in his third season and the team continues to face the same problems without, seemingly, any hope of them getting better.
I said the Flyers would be a playoff bubble team before the season started. They’re still in good position to finish the season that way, but the problems they face are the same as ever.
Despite a resurgence from Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek and a great start from Sean Couturier, the team has been shutout five times in 19 games. In the month of November, the team has split a pair of games with the middling Blackhawks, shutout the Central-leading Blues, been shutout twice by a struggling Minnesota team and lost in two shootouts in winnable games. They also gave the lowly Coyotes their first win of the season at the end of October.
I get that there’s a lot of rookies and young players on the team. There’s inherent problems with that. But good coaches don’t let that affect them. Look at Toronto. Mike Babcock got them into the playoffs last year when their team was basically all rookies.
Outside of the Flyers top line, secondary scoring hasn’t really been happening. Hakstol has tried mixing the lines, but his decisions are baffling. Dale Weise should never sniff the second line and, though he’s been much improved before his injury this year, Andrew MacDonald isn’t deserving of top line minutes.
It seems weird, in a way, to say a coach with an 88-68-27 record isn’t succeeding. But watching this team play, they sometimes seem to win despite their flaws.
Hextall went out on a limb when he decided to bring Hakstol in from North Dakota. It’s probably why he’s been patient. But this team suffers from the same problems it did a year ago–playing down to lesser teams, inconsistent play, a lack of scoring depth and shaky team defense.
The players, of course, deserve some of the blame when it comes to certain problems. And who knows–maybe today’s game against Calgary is the beginning of something beautiful
But if I’m being honest with myself, most of the problems start with Hakstol and the organization needs to move on from him if this team is going to take any major step forward.