Hextall: ‘We need more energy as a group’

PHILADELPHIA – For the past 50 years, the two words the Flyers have not wanted to hear are “quiet building.’’

From the raucous Broad Street Bullies era to the 2010 miracle comeback team, Philly’s home rink always has prided itself on physical hockey and appreciative vocal fans.

The faithful following takes its cue off the team’s energy level and some nights it’s just not there.

So when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said before Thursday night’s game against the Islanders that he thought the Flyers’ effort was too quiet (i.e., the players weren’t energetic enough) in a Tuesday night 5-1 loss to the Penguins, heads turned.

Said Hakstol: “Well I felt we were too quiet in our building the other night. It’s all about guys working hard for one another.’’

This, just after the Flyers had called up rookie tough guy Tyrell Goulbourne from the Phantoms.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, Goulbourne was snow-bound in Toronto (where the Phantoms were playing the Marlies) and could get to Philadelphia in time.

But the message was clear.

General manager Ron Hextall confirmed as much when he agreed with his coach’s assessment, that the energy level has been “in and out’’ at times in the first half of the season.

Maybe Goulbourne can stir up some trouble when the Flyers host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday afternoon.

Hextall, however, says it’s more the responsibility of the entire roster to get that energy level up.

“There’s nights where we’ve needed more energy as a group,’’ Hextall said. “Obviously a big part of this (promoting Goulbourne) was just to bring in some energy.’’

What does that say about a team with a number of physical players on its roster, that it has to bring up a rookie who has never played a game in the National Hockey League?

“It’s the whole group,’’ Hextall said. “You can bring energy, emotion in different ways.’’

Goulbourne, 23, was selected by the Flyers in the third round (72nd overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

He is in his third season with the Phantoms. The 6-0, 200-pound native of Edmonton has recorded six goals and five assists for 11 points in 34 games with the Phantoms this season, along with 38 penalty minutes.

In 131 career AHL games, Goulbourne has recorded 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points, along with 137 penalty minutes.

“He’s got outstanding speed,’’ Hextall pointed out. “He’s a heavy player, he’s got a heavy stick. Good penalty killer.

“The energy thing, the speed, the forecheck, the physical play. . .he’s come a long way in three years. He can play the game, he’s learned to stay focused.’’

Hextall said he hopes the Flyers don’t “need’’ Goulbourne to light their fuse.

“I like to think with our group we don’t have to do something like that,’’ Hextall said. “To have a ripple effect. I think our players recognize that it wasn’t the most energized game by our club and we need to be better.’’

 

 

World Junior report

 

Hextall sounded pleased with the play of some of his prospects at the World Junior Championships.

Leading that list is Canada goaltender Carter Hart. But other players have shown some good things, too.

One who has caught his eye is Sweden’s Linus Hogberg, a forward.

“He’s got great feet, a really good stick,’’ Hextall said. “He understands the game. The negative is he only played five to seven minutes but the positive is he’s a fifth-round pick and he’s on the Swedish World Juniors team.’’

German Rubtsov, a former No. 1 draft pick, appears to have a lot of promise. The Russian center has plenty of talent.

“He was good,’’ Hextall said. “Plays a good two-way game. Good skills, played a lot on the power play.’’

Rubtsov had four points through five games.

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 378 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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