Philadelphia Flyers still plagued by bad decisions, despite recent success

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Even though the Philadelphia Flyers are on top of the Metropolitan Division at the moment, a few bad decisions could be costly in the playoffs.

As most Philadelphia Flyers fans know, sometimes teams win when they are not playing their best hockey. We know this because of advanced statistics, not because of our keen observations and hockey knowledge. Although Dave Hakstol has made better decisions and a few hunches have paid off, his lineup decisions have the fan base perplexed.

What fans were fortunate enough to see throughout February was rare for the Flyers, or even hockey teams in general. With bounces going our way along with the stars coming through at the right time and good goaltending, Philadelphia has remarkably pulled into first place in the Metropolitan Division. I do truly believe the Flyers have put a scare into the rest of the division, but they haven’t played their best hockey for the most part.

Unfortunately, this could lead to a big letdown when the playoffs begin for Philadelphia, whether fans want to hear it or not. In fact, when looking at some of the decisions made by the organization this season, there’s a good chance this team will struggle just to advance past the first round.

Ron Hextall, who for all intents and purposes has done many good things since taking over the helm, has shown faith in the team to get them a decent net minder, but not bolstering up the middle to compete with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who raised the bar with the Derick Brassard acquisition. The gang from BSH was on the radio on Monday before and during the game between the Flyers and Habs game talking about what fans expected Hextall to do. They ‘re a great bunch over there with plenty of knowledge, but I believe Bill Matz said it best when he spoke of assets the Flyers have, but didn’t use.

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However, he didn’t expect Hextall to use them, prattling off names at the deadline who they didn’t and shouldn’t have acquired . A bit conflicting, since those assets will only have worth for a short time until it’s realized that some of this talent is not going to be NHL worthy. It’s a poor game at best, and you have to let other teams roll the dice on these guys to take some veteran talent in return.

That’s what Hextall needed to do at this deadline, as the majority of the core on the Flyers is above 30, and even though the best player in the world is showing us he still is, can we count on this type of production from Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds over the next three or four seasons? The Captain is proving the age curve isn’t affecting him now, but what about a few seasons from now when his contract is up? This is the window we have, and Hextall repeating over and over that we’ll be competitive for the next decade is no different then Paul Holmgren’s buy now, pay later approach.

While seemingly more comfortable behind the bench and even winning coach’s challenges, bad decisions are still being made, as Hakstol has continually put a lineup on the ice that has its issues and if not for the stars, they wouldn’t be where they are in the division.

Game after game, Hakstol continues to put his team at a disadvantage. As we all know, the playoffs are different animal and a competent fourth line is an absolute must.  Just look to the enemy in upper Pennsylvania, whose third and fourth lines were a bigger part to their cup wins then the stars of that team were.

Next: Flyers moving into first place in division seems unreal

I thought the Conn Smythe Trophy that Sidney Crosby won was severely wrong on so many levels. If the Pens management had not brought up those kids from the minors, they don’t win those cups. Between Hextall and Hakstol, the two have not put this team in a winning position heading towards the playoffs and I will detract these statements if the Flyers win a round in the playoffs this year.