Hextall’s mantra of developing prospects remains the same, even for Shayne Gostisbehere (Phantoms) and Sam Morin (junior, in photo above).

By David F. Cohen

The Flyers season that started with such promise — at least in the eyes of their fans — has spiraled into irrelevancy and their general manager has noticed.

The question is, will Ron Hextall do anything?

“We’re not at the point where we’re looking at getting rid of guys, but I would say that probably we’re not far from the point where if we don’t get it going, we’re going to have to start thinking about some things,” the Flyers’ general manager said.

“In saying that, you look at those things all the time. Every day, who can help us now and who can help us in the future. If there is anything out there, then we will move forward with it. Obviously, we’re not happy with the performance of the team.”

Hextall made the comment during a conference call Monday afternoon after a terrible road trip that left the Flyers 10 points out of a wild-card spot and 12 points behind Washington for third place in the Metropolitan Division (an automatic playoff qualifier).

Hextall reiterated he would not promote players from the Phantoms just to “take a peek at them” unless he feels they are ready for the NHL. His mantra of developing prospects remains the same, even for Shayne Gostisbehere (Phantoms) and Sam Morin (junior).

“My plan and thoughts with this franchise moving forward are no different than last summer,” Hextall said, meaning he still intends to show patience in allowing players to develop at their own pace.

“We are going to continue to go down that path. Is it going to be altered if we continue to go the way we are? Probably a little bit.”

The Flyers went 3-4-1 on their recent eight-game road trip after starting out 3-0. They needed at least 12 points to position themselves for a playoff spot and ended up losing ground.

“We’re not very pleased,” Hextall said. “We started out the road trip pretty well. I think we can all look at the fact we’ve had some bad breaks … you create your own breaks. You gotta find ways to win, and we’re not doing that right now.”

The Flyers begin a four-game homestand on Tuesday against Ottawa. Claude Giroux (left leg laceration) is questionable, and coach Craig Berube has had to readjust his lineup once again.

“We have to find ways to win games instead of letting a bad break beat us,” Hextall said.

To most clear-thinking observers, the Flyers weren’t playoff contenders even before the season began because of their obvious defensive deficiencies, among other issues.

“Do we have a good enough team on paper to make the playoffs?” Hextall asked. “Yeah, we do. Have we played up to expectations individually or collectively? The answer as a group is no. We’ve some individuals who have had good first-halves.”

He was referring to Giroux and Jakub Voracek, who are among the NHL top six in scoring. Hextall said unless others are contributing, however, it all goes to naught.

Berube said Monday the Flyers are lacking “confidence” and are a “fragile” club right now. Hextall did not disagree.

“We’ve got to be mentally stronger as a group,” Hextall said. “We’ve got to come out with consistent effort and also consistent performance and that’s the biggest thing I’ve seen. There’s nights where we’re not on our game or simplifying the game and we don’t look like a very good team.

“Then there’s nights where we’re connecting things and guys look sharp and we’re a pretty darn good team. It’s hard to access why and where. The first thing you have to is look at individuals, then take the group collectively and try to figure out where things have broken down.”

One area that bothers Hextall is that the Flyers have had very poor “puck support” and attempt to make high-risk plays in passing the puck instead of safer, easier plays.

Incidentally, Hextall still backs Berube.

Is this on the players instead of the coach?

“Yes, absolutely,” Hextall replied.

As for the threat of making major roster moves, Hextall was asked how would he hope players react to such.

“I would expect them to react no differently than they do every day,” he said. “Our players are professional and we expect them to perform at a high level every night. … There’s been some disappointment this year with our club, for sure.”

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