The Flyers are sitting at 4-7 eleven games into the season, giving them the third fewest points in the Eastern Conference. They’re riding a three-game losing streak where they’ve been outscored 13-2. (The two goal scorers are Nolan Patrick and Jori Lehtera, for what it’s worth.)
With a four game west coast road trip on the immediate horizon the question has to be asked: what will the Flyers do to get back on the right track?
As the title of this post suggests, the Flyers are in desperate need for a shake-up. The defense isn’t performing well, the offense is underperforming, goaltending’s been an issue since the ’90s, the penalty kill is a joke and it looks like the coach has lost the team. Something has to give.
The Flyers made their first move to bring in some life to the lineup, Corban Knight was sent to the injured reserve and Mikhail Vorobyev was sent back to the AHL after falling out of Dave Hakstol’s good graces. With two spots open, Tyrell Goulbourne and Nicolas Aube-Kubel were called up from the Phantoms. Goulbourne had a nine-game stint on the Flyers last season where he brought some “juice” in limited play time. He had 15 hits and no points. My hopes aren’t too high for him to make a big impact at the NHL level. On the other hand, I am excited to see what Aube-Kubel can do in his first call up. Last season he had 46 points for the Phantoms, this season he has seven points in eight games.
While it is unfortunate that Vorobyev was sent down, at least he will get a chance to play at the AHL level instead of wasting away in the press box. However, either Goulbourne or Aube-Kubel will spend time in the press box as I imagine Dale Weise, Jori Lehtera and Jordan Weal will remain in the nightly lineup. Ideally I’d like to see NAK get some minutes, he brings a good energy to the ice and has a scoring touch.
While those are the only official call-ups, I don’t think the Flyers should stop there. Andrew MacDonald is a sad excuse for a defenseman and Christian Folin isn’t much better. There is a young man on the Phantoms named Philippe Myers who has some serious potential. If we’re going to watch a struggling defenseman I’d rather watch a 21-year-old rookie figure it out than watch two old guys screw up on a nightly basis.
But wait, there’s more! It’s no secret that goaltending is an issue for the Flyers – Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth aren’t having great seasons. Sure, Neuvy only made one start, but to allow six – yes, six – goals to a bad Islanders team is completely unacceptable. Much like I said about watching a young player struggle, I’d rather do the same for a goalie. No, I’m not calling for Carter Hart 11 games into this season; I’m calling for the better of Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz. Neuvy flashes brilliance every now and again but he’s too unreliable. I’m over him at this point. I’d rather watch a 50-50 split of a veteran backstop and a young guy. I don’t have it in me to watch both Elliott and Neuvy goaltend all season. Give me the Lyon King or Stolie.
As far as call-ups go, those are all that I can think of right now. The other shake-up I would do, if I were Hextall, would be a coaching change. I’m teetering on the “Fire Hakstol” side of the fence, but I think a mercy firing is in the works. With a terrible penalty kill for what seems like the 8th year in a row, I think Ian Laperriere’s time behind the bench has come to an end. If Hexy wants to find a roll for him in the front office, fine, but he’s overstayed his welcome as an assistant coach. I respect him for taking a slapshot to the face in the 2010 playoffs, but his coaching is sub-par at best.
This isn’t to say that Hakstol shouldn’t be scared for his job, I think that’s a decision that’s coming soon. If the team doesn’t turn it around in a hurry he could be unemployed by the winter.
The Flyers embark on a four-game west coast trip starting on October 30 against the Anaheim Ducks. Someone on this team is going to have to provide a spark to set this team back in the right direction – who’s it going to be?