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The Flyers Are Going To Need To Make Some Changes Before They Become Completely Irrelevant In Philly

NHL: NOV 11 Wild at Flyers

Before we get started here, let me just make it very clear that the Flyers have obviously always been my #1 team in the city. Philadelphia is and will forever be an Eagles city. Green runs this town and it always will. But for me, I’ve always put a Flyers Stanley Cup over an Eagles Super Bowl. Not by much but if I knew I was going to die this June and could only see one Philly championship this year, I’d have to go with the Flyers. With that being said, the Flyers haven’t scored a goal since 3 minutes and 51 seconds into the 2nd period in their game against the Blackhawks last Thursday. That is 156:09 straight minutes of scoreless hockey for the Flyers after they lost 1-0 to Minnesota at home on Saturday and then lost 3-0 to Minnesota on the road Tuesday night. Shutout by the same team in a week and this couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Flyers.

Why? Well because the Eagles are 8-1, the best team in the NFL with a quarterback who is the favorite to win the NFL MVP and a head coach who is the favorite to win Coach of the Year. And it’s Dallas Week. Meanwhile, the Sixers are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA as Joel Embiid put up 78 points in 2 games in LA and Ben Simmons is the favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year. The majority of the city is always going to put the Eagles and Sixers ahead of the Flyers. Just listen to any of the sports talk radio shows. But the gap is getting wider every minute the Flyers go without a goal. The Eagles and the Sixers are appointment television.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have a game against Winnipeg tonight and I think I’d rather just watch as many episodes of Always Sunny as I can before Netflix gets rid of the show on December 9th instead.

So what needs to happen? How do they get back in the conversation with the Eagles and the Sixers instead of just becoming an afterthought? Obviously there are changes that need to be made and I think I speak for everybody when I say the Flyers middle six absolutely STINKS.

The Flyers were actually an exciting team to watch in the first couple of weeks in the season. Why is that? Because Nolan Patrick was in the lineup and you could roll with Couturier, Filppula and Patrick as your top 3 centers. The moment Nolan Patrick went down with a concussion, the middle 6 went straight to shit. Right now the Flyers have Dale mother fucking Weise on the 2nd line and Jori Lehtera in the lineup. Both of these guys are 4th liners at best. The only issue is that the Flyers already have a really good 4th line with Leier/Laughton/Raffl. So instead of just saying to themselves, “ya know what? Weise and Lehtera just don’t fit in here”, Dave Hakstol decides to throw Weise on the 2nd line and Lehtera out there dragging down the production of whoever else he’s on the ice with.

I don’t like calling out individual guys because I know it’s not their decision where they end up in the lineup and I know they’re just doing their job. But Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera have taken the Flyers’ forward depth, lit it on fire and pissed on the ashes. The Flyers were rolling with 4 solid lines in the first couple weeks of the season. Now they have the 28/14/93 line and the 4th line and that’s it. And you know who is to blame for that? Dave Hakstol.

Hakstol deserves the praise that he got for having the balls to move Giroux to the wing and slide Couturier up to 1C. That move has paid off immensely. But his inability to fix the middle 6 right now is destroying this team and putting them in a position where they’re borderline unwatchable. Obviously one of Weise or Lehtera will get bumped once Nolan Patrick is cleared to play. But after that, Hakstol is so frustratingly stubborn about making a call up from Lehigh Valley. There are so many options to go to. Call up Danick Martel. Call up Mike Vecchione. Call up Oskar Lindblom. All of these guys plus Nolan Patrick will give the middle 6 the extra jump they need but we’ll never see it since Hakstol has this weird obsession with rewarding mediocrity. It’s infuriating. The Flyers need scoring. Brian Elliot held the Wild to 1 goal last Saturday and only gave up 1 goal in the first 15 seconds of the game on Tuesday before the Wild scored 2 on the empty net. He’s giving the Flyers a chance and the forwards are letting him down. So until the Flyers fix their middle 6, they’ll be unwatchable. And the longer they remain unwatchable, the further the gap grows between them and the Eagles/Sixers.  I’d say they have until Christmas to turn it around or else nobody will give a shit about them anymore.