A not-so-well deserved rest: Flyers Edition

 

Photo by Heather Barry

This could not be a better time for the Flyers to have a couple days off, but in reality, rest does not fix a lack of talent. Does anyone remember that 10 game winning streak? It seems as if it never happened. Especially with so many questions that need to be answered before this break is over. Questions range from players work ethic to the coaches line up decisions and so on. 

With many back-to-backs, a rest may help this team, but who really needs the rest is Steve Mason if the Flyers want to go anywhere, and he may be the only guy really deserving of any break for how much he has played.

We will break down the problems with this team and see what options Hextall and Hakstol may have in order to fix them because with the way things are playing out, this season could be very disappointing without a run for the playoffs, simply because this years roster is an improvement over last year, although not by much.

With a competitive and streaky division such as the Metro, every point is essential and will be critical for making the playoffs, seems simple enough, right? The quick answer is no, and it starts with coaching. 

Why doesn’t VandeVelde get scratched for horrific play? Why does MacDonald play 20 minutes a game? Why didn’t Mason get more rest while playing 22 of 24? Why doesn’t Hakstol make in game adjustments? Why didn’t Stolarz get more playing time knowing a backup goalie was injured? Weise on a powerplay? Scratching Ghost and Konecny? These are just a few questions that have most fans worried. 

The rebuttal that most people will want to logically respond with is usually along the lines of, “Hakstol doesn’t have enough talent to work with.” I can only agree to this to a certain extent. It is still the coaches duty to insert the best possible lineup night in and night out. Travis Konecny was a +1 with an assist and was then scratched the next game… A young player who helps spark this team with his aggressiveness and assertiveness on the forecheck, he’s 19. It is almost as if Hakstol has a seniority system with playing time. If Hakstol preaches accountability for players, the coaches should also be in that mix. Killing confidence in young players is certainly not going to help their development. 

With the Gostisbehere situation, we might as well call it the Chip Kelly effect, and properly so. Everyone in the league was taken back by his great offensive play in his rookie season, it was sort of a new thing to have such a young talent handle so much of the game offensively, especially as a defenseman. As this year has proved, teams found out ways to combat his style of play, but the fault isn’t all his. Being paired with a defenseman who slows you down and lacks awareness will hinder development of any player. 

With the lack of talent on the blue line, it’s become easier to shut down the more effective players, and the same goes for our bottom six. If our top two lines are shut down, other teams are drastically increasing their chances of winning because of the poor play from revolving bottom six.

Another frustrating scenario is the scratching of Lyubimov. A 24-year-old with 5+ years of KHL experience, I will take him over anyone on the 4th line in any situation. He is a two-way player who is currently playing with a 4th line that needs to be dismantled because of their recent stretch of bad play. 

In no way is this a post to lead the charge in running Hakstol out of town, he has better talent in the pipeline and hopefully will use better judgement when they are brought up, but for now, all fans have a reason to question his ability to judge talent because he has given us way too many reasons to think otherwise. If everyone else can see these easy mistakes, why can’t our coach?

As the season progresses we will know more about the roster and how it will look next season, but this season is very important. With contracts expiring, the Flyers will look to resign Ghost and Lyubimov and could possibly lose Bellemare, VandeVelde, Schultz, Streit, and Del Zotto. Also, both goalies contracts will be up after this year, and with the expansion draft approaching, things will only become more difficult. 

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