Hextall: ‘Sky Is Not Falling' for Flyers, Things Will Even Out

You think President Trump has a gripe about the media's coverage of his White House?
Have you talked to either Dave Hakstol or Ron Hextall about the coverage of the Flyers?

The Flyers have been shut out twice at home in succession, something that hasn't happened since the last millennium (1999).
Hakstol's emphasis on defense-first has allowed the Flyers to remain competitive to the bitter end over the past three games, yet their offense is nonexistent while their power play has fallen out of the top 10 (11th now) for the first time since Oct. 24.
"You guys, at times, you can make it tough," Hakstol said on Wednesday afternoon. "The reality is over the last couple of weeks we are 4-2-1, yet you get the feeling on certain days that we haven't won a hockey game in three weeks."
Maybe that's because they Flyers are 1-2-1 since the All-Star break and simply appear to have flatlined at the most crucial time of the season.
Hextall chimed in himself, hinting that the media have badly overreacted to the recent benching of Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny, which left an offensively-challenged lineup even more impotent.
"The sky is not falling," said Hextall, perhaps evoking his inner Daniel Craig from Skyfall. "These kids are very good young players.
"They're a big part of our future and quite frankly in the time we've had them both, we're quite happy with them. This is one little window here that seems to be a bit of an overreaction ... [from the media]."
When challenged by reporters about the utter inconsistency of the Flyers this season and how a team can win 10 games in a row before going 3-9-3, Hextall said it has much to do with parity among teams, many of which have had similar streaks and slumps.
The compressed schedule has also wreaked havoc everywhere. Some months are overly congested, making it tough on practices and player recovery.
Other months have unusual gaps with too much down time, followed by back-to-back games.
"Of the 10 we won, maybe we should have been 7-2-1 or something," Hextall said. "Of the [3-9-3] or whatever we went after that, I felt we should have been better than that.
"I think in the end all that evens out. But we do have to try to get a better grip on the lows. I like the highs, but the lows we have to do a better job as a group."
What the Flyers have to do is score some goals. As much as Hakstol's group has clamped down defensively, they have sacrificed on the offensive side of the puck with just four goals in their last four games.
That kind of scoring lapse is not going to clinch a playoff berth.
"Yeah, it's got to get better," Hextall said. "We've got to get better in a lot of areas. We have to perform better. We have to execute better."
Passes have to be tape-to-tape and not at someone's skates. Zone entries have to be in-sync and not offside. Power play shots and passes can't be rushed if there is no puck support near the net, which is why St. Louis iced the puck seven times on the Flyers' first two power plays this week.
The Islanders come in tonight just three points behind the Flyers in the wild-card standings with three games in hand to make up the difference.
"The band for winning and losing is right there," Hextall said. "If you play on this end (gestures) you can go 10-0. And if you play here, which isn't much worse, you can go 3-9-3. Like, it's a fine line. I've never seen anything like it.
"I talk to managers all the time and we talk about the same thing. All of our ups and downs, why we're having ups and downs. It's a fine line between winning and losing."
A line that the Flyers are on the wrong side of right now during the stretch run.
Loose pucks
The Flyers held an optional morning skate at Skate Zone. ... Hence, they don't run lines or have D-pairs. ... Steve Mason will start in goal tonight. Shayne Gostisbehere will return to the lineup.

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