Dave Hakstol: Holding his own as Flyers hit mid-point of season

Image1 (1)

The hockey season is just past the midway with the Flyers playing their 43rd game of the season on Sunday night in Detroit and there are many teams drastically fighting for a position in the playoffs.

The Flyers are a legitimate part of the competition, trailing a playoff spot by just two points.

Dave Hakstol came to Philadelphia with supporters wanting to wait and see what he was capable of with the future while also seeing what he could do with a team that clearly needed improvement to compete.

Did Hakstol do what he set out to? It is time for his mid-year evaluation.

Factor One: A shaky start to the season

The Flyers started the season with some inconsistency and head-scratching decision making. Three games into the 2015-16 season, they had been on all ends of possible results — a hard-fought overtime loss, a frustrating blowout loss and one exciting win.

The first game against the Florida Panthers was a disaster that any Flyers fan wanted to quickly forget, but the second contest against Florida was a pleasing recovery.

After the second game of the season and first against the Panthers, the players held a closed-door meeting. There's a lot of ways the next portion of the season could have gone, given a meeting doesn't really change problems, only lays them out. The team responded with focus and a quick turnaround. They started playing solid and playing together. It was important to start strong and they turned it around just in time to play to a solid October record.

Factor Two: Chemistry

Much to his credit, Hakstol is improving the chemistry and confidence of the team. He has experimented with line changes and scratched players, such as Brayden Schenn and Matt Read, who needed a boost.

The moment Hakstol decided to place first-line winger Jake Voracek on the fourth line to light a spark was a crucial moment for the Flyers change in confidence. That came on Nov. 23, prior to a 3-2 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. It seemed to give the entire team the confidence needed and they have earned 31 points in the 23 games since the move with Voracek.

Factor Three: Good effort

With Hakstol at the helm, the players seem to play with determination. His players are responding to him and bringing a compete level and will to battle that had previously been lost.

Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Michal Neuvirth have added to the assurance. Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, and Sean Couturier have brought energy to each game. The team is working together and standing up for each other. It is obvious they are playing as a team with improved consistency.

With Hakstol, it is working in Philadelphia. The entire team deserves credit in applying a full 60-minute efforts overall.

To me, Dave Hakstol earns a B to this point in the season in improving the team the way he has. If Hakstol guides his team well for the rest of the season, preserves this winning streak, possesses confidence in his players, and retains his firm footing, a playoff spot could earn him an A at the end of the season.

Denise Mroz is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow her on Twitter @denisemroz10.

Go to top button