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Riding out storm, Hextall mum on possible changes ahead

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is not ready to reveal his plans for next season when this one is still in progress for the struggling team.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall. (David Maialetti/Staff file photo)
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall. (David Maialetti/Staff file photo)Read more

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is not ready to reveal his plans for next season when this one is still in progress for the struggling team.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Hextall did not want to delve into future moves, although plenty are likely to be coming.

The Flyers are 11 points out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with just eight games remaining. So while Hextall is likely looking at the future, he's not ready to discuss anything but the present.

"It's a little premature," he said. "We're in the midst of the season right now and obviously along the way I have my thoughts, but we have some work to do to figure out where we need to improve and stuff. We are not there yet."

Hextall momentarily paused when asked if the Flyers problem is with their talent or effort or a combination of the two.

"It's hard to say," Hextall said. "I don't believe our effort has been an area where you could say we have a problem here in terms of flat-out effort. I think consistency has been our biggest issue."

"I think you see certain games and we play real well, we execute, we have good puck support, our lines work well together, our D pairs work, we move the puck quick. Then there are other games where we're just off our game. But again, I wouldn't say effort is a problem here. We've got a pretty good group of people."

The Flyers have played well against good teams and just the opposite against weaker opponents. They have dropped their last nine games (0-6-3) to teams who were not in a playoff spot when they met.

Hextall admits to being baffled by this trend. He said playing well against the better teams has some obvious value. "I think it shows at least where you can be when you have all your players playing up to their abilities," he said. "It's a little concerning but something we'll continue to look at for sure."

The Flyers never recovered from their 3-2 overtime loss in Boston on March 7 when they squandered a 2-1 lead with 14.5 seconds left in regulation. Since then, they are just 1-4-3. Hextall conceded that the loss could have been a turning point.

The GM said he is not likely to use the final eight games as an audition for young call-ups from the Phantoms. One issue is that NHL teams get four call-ups after the trade deadline and the Flyers have used two.

"You're looking and saying, OK, who has earned a call-up over the course of the year?" Hextall said. "And I think the two guys who have been up recently have in Brandon Manning and Nick Cousins, who's up right now."


Hextall said goalie Steve Mason has recovered from the illness that caused him to miss the 5-4 overtime loss in Edmonton Saturday. . . . The Flyers had the day off from practice. They will host the Chicago Blackhawks and former teammate Kimmo Timonen on Wednesday.

The starting time of the April 5 home game against Pittsburgh has been changed to 12:30 p.m. and will air on NBC. . . . Highly regarded minor-league defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, out since early November after suffering a torn knee ligament, has a doctor's appointment on Wednesday. "We are going to know for sure if he is going to play or not [this season]," Hextall said.