The Philadelphia Flyers played just one game in the past week as the team relaxed during his bye week. Coach Dave Haktol and general manager Ron Hextall stayed quiet too, but the latter did recall Tyrell Goulbourne. Along with the recall, I look back at Hakstol’s handling of young players in this week’s analysis of Hak and Hex.
I was surprised when the Flyers and Hextall recalled Tyrell Goulbourne on Friday as the bye week was ending — and I’m still perplexed by the move. When the Phantoms winger was recalled the first time, I saw it as a move to try and push the team’s buttons.
Goulbourne played just two games before the bye and didn’t see even six minutes of ice time in either of them. But the move seemed to serve its purpose. Philly won three games after the recall (Goulbourne missed the first due to travel issues) and he even helped create a goal against the St. Louis Blues.
Last Sunday, the Flyers smartly sent him back down so he could practice in the Lehigh Valley instead of enjoy the bye week like of the rest of the team. I saw that at the time as Goulbourne’s end in Philly.
But Hextall saw fit to call him back up. Hakstol, though, still didn’t want to play the 23 year old as Goulbourne skated his lowest amount yet at 4:56 against the New Jersey Devils Saturday. Even if you believe Goulbourne serves a purpose by bringing grit or protection, that’s not enough minutes to really even do that.
I was fine with the recall last week, but at this point, it’s confusing why Hextall wouldn’t call up a veteran that could play more than five minutes like Matt Read, Corban Knight (now injured) or Colin McDonald — without even getting into a promising prospect like Oskar Lindblom.
However, one of the positives from this move is that Dale Weise is finally a healthy scratch after months of indifferent play. Jori Lehtera’s still in the lineup over Taylor Leier, but at least there’s some bright side to Hakstol’s lineup choices.
Bottom line, recalling Goulbourne is an okay move, but could be made better by calling up a player that can make more of an impact.
Sanheim Still Scratched
Travis Sanheim finally got back into game action Saturday, but it was solely because of Shayne Gostisbehere falling ill and being unable to play. Hakstol kept that clear too, by playing the rookie just 6:23 in his first game action in over two weeks.
Gostisbehere is back for tonight’s game and given NHL coach’s (yes, all NHL coaches, not just Hakstol) reluctance to change a winning lineup, Brandon Manning is likely to suit up again.
The benchings have made many Flyers fans wonder why the team won’t send Sanheim down to the Phantoms at the very least. The argument is that the Manitoba native could get some game time until Hakstol stops toying with it in the NHL.
While that would serve some purpose, I’m not for it. I believe it’s better for Sanheim to see himself as an NHLer instead of a tweener and not have to overanalyze every decision he makes in the AHL and NHL.
The Flyers will also lose again — and probably even hit a rut. By the end of the week, Sanheim may be in the lineup full-time again.
On another note that’s not likely to be appreciated among Philly fans, I believe Hakstol deserves some sort of pass when it comes to his handling of rookies.
Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny were benched last season and are having great years this season, especially the former. Jordan Weal was benched earlier in the season and is turning it on again with four points in the past five games.
On the flip side, he also didn’t reprimand Gostisbehere by a scratch when he struggled during the 10-game losing streak or has benched Nolan Patrick during some tough trials in his rookie season. It seems like he may know the right buttons to push with some players for the present and the future.
Of course, the argument to all of this is those players could be better with a different coach. Without a portal to a Hakstol-less universe, there’s no way of knowing that for sure, but right now we can’t say the former University of North Dakota coach has made any of his young players fail.
However, if Hakstol wanted his best lineup it would include Sanheim and not Manning. I’m not ready to say that the scratchings have ruined Sanheim’s development, though.