I was at the Flyers game last night. They did not look good. Little sustained pressure, defensive lapses, boneheaded (bench) penalties. But, we’re about three weeks into the Dave Hakstol era with essentially the same roster of defensive hodgepodge and a whole bunch of third-liners. For the the last two years it’s been my complaint that the Flyers are missing an entire line. Their first line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and [insert whoever] is fine. Good, even. But lines two and three are third and fourth lines, at best, on good teams:
Matt Read is the most generic hockey player on the planet. He’s a one-dimensional Trent Klatt type who can fill space just about anywhere but do anything of note nowhere. Wayne Simmonds is fine. He’s a good scorer and the type of forward every team needs. But he lacks puck skills and comes with those all-too-familiar Flyers descriptors, like grit, will, drive (actual words used to describe him). The best thing you can say about his presence on the Flyers is that they don’t try to stock their roster with four of him, like they used to. We’re still waiting on Brayden Schenn to be something more than a mid-level
defensive [update: better wording– two-way forward who’s not particularly good at anything] with upside. Sean Couturier will play in this league for a long time and probably wear an A at some point, but he doesn’t have nearly the skills to be considered a top-six forward like he is on the Flyers. And everybody else just is.
All of this is a long way of saying that the Flyers need more talent (surprise!), and until they get it, they’re going to be mediocre to mediocre+. And any struggles, especially thus far, can hardly be pinned on the coach. Yet, Bob Brookover needed something to write today:
The nicest thing we can say about Hakstol Hockey so far is that at least the Flyers did not show up late to the starting gate the way they had in the two previous seasons. Already they have quality victories against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers.
That does not mean this first season with Dave Hakstol as head coach is going to end any differently than Craig Berube’s only full season as head coach did a year ago. In fact, the two teams are a lot more similar than you might think.
Regardless, scoring little and relying on your goaltender a lot is not the kind of system Hakstol wants to install in his first season as Flyers coach.
It’s only nine games, and new systems take time to implement. Right now, however, the new coach’s team looks a lot like the old coach’s team.
Well, there’s something: New coach with virtually same impact players is experiencing similar success or lack thereof as old coach. Good stuff, Bob.
I know Brookover had space to fill, but, for the second day in a row, we see why we can’t have nice things. A whole column about how Hakstol’s team looks like Berube’s is laughable, and the sort of knee-jerk reaction that is as pointless as it is boring. Most likely, we’ll have no idea if Hakstol is a good coach until the Flyers have a real second line and two more defensemen. The best they can be this year is a lower-four playoff team that shows signs of improvement and maybe excites with a playoff win or two. Yay Philadelphia.