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January 18, 2017

What they're saying: Will Flyers, no longer in playoff position, make a move?

Flyers NHL

The Flyers are currently in the middle of their five-day bye week, sandwiched between a pair of back-to-backs. They won't be back on the ice until Friday when they'll prepare for Saturday's game against the Devils (as well as their trip to visit the Islanders on Sunday).

As you're likely already aware, the Orange and Black entered their vacation having lost nine of their last 11 games. And in the few days off since Sunday's 5-0 loss to the Capitals, they've been bumped out of a playoff spot by the Senators, who still have four games in hand on the Flyers (22-18-6).

There's not a ton of news coming out of Flyers land with the team away from the ice, but that doesn't mean people aren't talking about them. Here's a look at what they're saying (and, not surprisingly, most of it isn't great).

CHANGES COMING? HEXTALL SAYS FLYERS 'NOT VERY HAPPY RIGHT NOW'

Jordan Hall | CSN Philly

As the Flyers limp into their NHL mandated five-day bye week, do players sense an imminent shakeup within the roster?

“It’s a good question,” Claude Giroux said, “but I don’t know.”

Despite never losing his sense of prudence, Hextall ruled nothing out.

“Obviously we always keep an eye on the big club and the Phantoms, as well,” Hextall said. “Right now, we’re going to stick with what we’ve got here and move forward. But on a day-to-day basis, I always look at how we can make our club better and, if there’s something that we think makes our club better, we’ll do it."

If Hextall wants to add some fresh blood from within, the organization is not lacking for young and spry prospects full of energy down at Lehigh Valley, where the Phantoms are 24-10-2 and third among the entire AHL entering Monday.  [csnphilly.com]

MAKE-OR-BREAK MONTH LOOMING FOR FLYERS

Chris O’Reilly | The Hockey Writers

With just under three months to go in the regular season, there is certainly time for Philly to turn things around. That said, three months is also enough time to unravel completely. The Flyers are currently in the middle of their bye week, but this brief rest period will be followed shortly by a pretty unforgiving stretch of their schedule. If this team is going to put together a serious playoff push, they need to sharpen their claws, because one way or the other, the month of February will have a lot to say about whether or not Philadelphia is still standing when the dust settles on the regular season.

After finishing up January with a manageable handful of games, the Flyers will try to defend the Wells Fargo Center in a five-game home stand. Philly has a home record of 14-6-3, which is middle-of-the-road for the league, but that number will be tested in this challenging couple of days. Four of their five opponents would make the playoffs if the season ended today, and the first of those is the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal is flat-out running away with the Atlantic Division, and figures to be in the mix for the Presidents’ Trophy come April.  A statement win on home ice against the Habs would go a long way toward setting the tone for the rest of this stretch. [thehockeywriters.com]

FLYERS’ PLAYOFF CHANCES: CONTENDERS OR PRETENDERS?

Allentown Morning Call

The fact that Hextall doesn't sound too interested in making a major move for someone such as Colorado's Matt Duchene might be his way of saying the Flyers aren't that close to serious contention yet and his long-range plan needs more to time to pan out.

Don't think for a minute Hextall isn't tempted to bring in "some of his own players," just like almost every GM wants to do. Hextall didn't draft Giroux, didn't trade for Voracek, Schenn, Couturier or Mason. Not that he doesn't like these players, it's just that they aren't necessarily his guys.

All he can do is preach patience.  [mcall.com]

HAKSTOL: FLYERS MUST GET ‘BACK TO BASICS’

Sam Carchidi | The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Flyers have lost 11 of 14 (3-8-3) since their 10-game winning streak was snapped. They could become the first team in NHL history to miss the playoffs during a season in which they won 10 in a row.

"We've got to solve the consistency," Hakstol said at a news conference Tuesday at the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees. "That's by just going back to work. You can break things down any direction you want, but really it's a matter of coming back with clear minds. Get ready to go back to work. Pull together a little tighter and go to work for 60 minutes and just worry about doing that on Saturday."  [philly.com]

WHAT PART OF THEIR GAME CAN FLYERS COUNT ON DOWN THE STRETCH?

Kurt R. | Broad Street Hockey

Who’s to blame here is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the coach, for not optimizing his lineup or giving lines and pairings the right amount of time to show that they can work or getting this team to play up to its potential with what, on paper, looks like a better roster than last year’s. Maybe it’s the guys at the top of the lineup, for not quite being where we know they can be despite all (except the goalies) having pretty good seasons. Maybe it’s the guys at the bottom of the lineup, for just not quite being good enough at the NHL level. Maybe it’s the front office, either for not making the right moves to get better players in the system or for not having the best players currently available to them on the roster.

Or maybe it’s a little bit on everyone. Take your pick.

If the Flyers want to put on a late-season run again and avoid what would be a very disappointing playoffs-less spring, they’re going to need to find a foundation again, whether that starts with Claude Giroux, Steve Mason, Dave Hakstol, or whoever else it may be. We know the power play is above-average. But at this point there’s precious little else we can count on to show up and play well almost every night. For a team with the Flyers’ current limitations, that lack of a foundation could be the difference between a second straight playoff trip and an early vacation. [broadstreethockey.com]


Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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