Hextall OK with Flyers’ latest effort despite ninth straight loss

PHILADELPHIA – The fans booed the effort.
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall had a totally different take.
Hextall watched the Flyers extend their winless streak to nine games (0-4-5) on Tuesday night with a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center.
He looked on as his team managed only one shot on goal through 17 minutes of action in the third period and meekly retreated to their locker room at the final horn.
There, they decided to hold a closed-door meeting to air out grievances and possibly prevent finger-pointing from getting out of control.
Maybe Hextall is seeing the whole thing through rose-colored glasses but the harsh reality is the Flyers are setting themselves up for their annual chase-the-playoffs situation.
“If you look at the way we’ve played, actually from the start of the year, I’m pretty good at the way our team’s played,’’ Hextall said. “Pretty good with the way our team has played the last nine games.
“I think tonight we ran out of a little bit of energy. The results lately have not been very good. We deserve better but we haven’t gotten better. We have to find a way.’’
The Flyers got a goal from Claude Giroux just 48 seconds into the game and then called it a night.
They took bad penalties, committed costly turnovers and showed little initiative around the Sharks’ net.
Still, Hextall doesn’t sound too concerned.
“If we were playing poorly, I would be the first to say we’re playing poorly,’’ he said. “We are not playing poorly. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot at times? Yes, we are. Critical mistakes at critical times.’’
The Flyers have been outscored 10-2 in the third period over this stretch, clearly a sign they don’t have what it takes to pull out games.
Conversely, they blew another lead in this game after giving up two-goal leads in four of their previous six games.
“The point is, we have to find ways to win,’’ Hextall said. “Nobody is looking for excuses around here. We are going to battle through this, we are going to get through it.
“Losing nine games is not acceptable, let’s be real. In saying that, as a manager, I have to realistic with how our team is playing. Some of the damage we done to ourselves but certainly we’ve played better than our record.’’
The Sharks bounced back from that early Giroux goal to gain a tie when a Chris Tierney shot eluded Michal Neuvirth at 10:29. Then, during a five-on-three (with Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl off), Joe Thornton made it 2-1 at 18:42 of the first.
San Jose picked up a third goal late in the second period, but the way the Flyers were playing, a one-goal lead would have been plenty.
There were some chants of “Fire Hakstol!’’ late in the game, a reference to coach Dave Hakstol but the coach dismissed that, saying such behavior comes with the territory.
As for his team, he, like Hextall, isn’t making excuses.
“We didn’t have a lot of energy (against the Sharks),’’ Hakstol said. “There’s no magic formula (for getting out of a slump). You go back to work, you believe in the guy next to you.
“You have to be mentally tough in situations like this. Things haven’t gone well. We’re not in the spot we want to be. But this is the time you show your mental toughness.’’
The players came out of the meeting looking a bit glum but voicing vows to turn their situation around.
“Certainly, this is not a game we were proud of,’’ Andrew MacDonald said. “Tough one to put our name on that one.
“Throughout this stretch of games, we’ve played well and come out on the short side of things. The last couple we haven’t been able to put together 60-minute games. Tonight was probably our worst one. We just have to push through this and find a way to get things done.’’
Giroux is at a loss for answers.
“Not good enough,’’ the captain said. “We were tired, maybe we made some bad decisions. We have to look at each other and see what we’re playing for here.’’
Added Shayne Gostisbehere: “I don’t think our game is where it’s supposed to be. It’s unacceptable. We’re down two and we only get one shot in the third (at full strength). . .it’s pretty sad to see. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. No one’s going to feel sorry for you.’’
Certainly not Flyers fans paying big money for tickets.

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 331 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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