Flyers drop ninth in a row with heat on Hakstol

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Update: Tuesday didn’t provide Dave Hakstol or the Philadelphia Flyers any relief. They didn’t even get a standings point in this case, as the San Jose Sharks beat them 3-1, giving Philly its ninth loss in a row.

It probably stings a bit more that the Flyers gave up a 1-0 lead.

Mark down “closed-door meeting” on your struggling coach BINGO sheets.

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Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers squandered multiple leads to (of all teams) the hated Pittsburgh Penguins, losing for the eighth game in a row. It was another instance of a “loser point” keeping them vaguely in the mix, but doing little to remove the sting of defeat.

As patient as Flyers fans have frequently been as GM Ron Hextall continues what’s been a mostly impressive rebuild, there are breaking points, and the guy behind the bench often takes the fall.

With the San Jose Sharks in town, plenty of people wonder if the seat is getting boiling-hot for head coach Dave Hakstol.

It’s not accurate to say that every Flyers fans is calling for Hakstol’s head, but plenty are, with some being more vocal than others.

Sometimes you need fancy stats to break things down, but sometimes it’s just easier to compare your fledgling team to another sports team in town that’s doing quite a bit with its 16-game regular season.

Broad Street Hockey’s Travis Hughes went further on that, pointing out the dubious history of Flyers coaches whose teams had fewer wins than the Philadelphia Eagles around American Thanksgiving time. Short version: history isn’t exactly smiling upon Hakstol and his (currently) 8-9-6 Flyers team.

Naturally, a coaching change doesn’t just wave a magic wand and make everything better, even if the Flyers have seen firsthand how much of a difference that can make. Both the Flyers (see: Peter Laviolette’s midseason turnaround to a run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final) and their bitter rivals the Penguins stand as examples of a team getting that extra push.

Of course, those teams also featured rosters that were at make-or-break moments. That Flyers team ended up looking very different soon after that run, even beyond that being something of a last hurrah for Chris Pronger as a game-changing defenseman.

Heading into 2017-18, many expected the Flyers to be middle-of-the-pack, so it’s reasonable to wonder how much of these struggles come down to coaching instead of personnel or other factors.

Ultimately, making the right call with Hakstol is merely one of several tough tasks for Hextall right now. Hextall’s already succeeded in the “easier said than done” task of cleaning up many of the Flyers’ salary cap issues, but as we’ve often seen in sports, it can often be very challenging to make the jump from becoming respectable to truly being a factor.

Many Flyers fans would likely argue that Hakstol isn’t the coach to move them up such ranks.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.