Hextall goes off on lifeless Flyers

NEW YORK - The door slammed, opened, and slammed again.

Inside the changing room, a sanctuary for players that is usually kept at an arms-length from team management, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was peeling the paint off the walls with words that would make a stevedore blush.

"Are you [bleeping] kidding me?" Hextall screamed, loud enough for the media waiting next door in the locker room to hear. "That's [bleeping] embarrassing! Jesus [bleeping] Christ!"

The door slammed, one final time, but not until it sounded as if a wastebasket bounced off the wall deep inside the bowels of Madison Square Garden - where the Flyers have now lost nine consecutive regular-season games.

To say the Flyers' lifeless, 2-0 loss to the Rangers Wednesday night got to Hextall would be an understatement.

"That bothered me a lot," Hextall said. "We didn't come out hungry enough. We didn't play very well. We've got to be a lot better than that. I just said I was very disappointed. Very disappointed."

Hextall's message, the first fireball he's breathed in 6 months at the helm, was a wakeup call for a team that has lost three straight. Their opponent, the Rangers, had won only four games in regulation all season. Alain Vigneault even went with backup Cam Talbot - the first time since Jan. 16, 2011, that the Flyers faced someone other than Henrik Lundqvist at the Garden - to shake things up.

"We've got to realize," Wayne Simmonds said, "for that [rant] to happen, you've got to be playing pretty bad. You don't see a GM come down [to the locker room] too often. We haven't played too well the last three games. We didn't play a tough brand of hockey. We just didn't show up tonight. It's not a physical thing, it's got to be a mental thing."

The Flyers never even made it tough on Talbot, who earned his fourth career shutout, until late in the third period. At the other end, Steve Mason was the only reason the Flyers even had a prayer in the final frame, turning in one of his best performances of the season.

It was a comedy of errors in the defensive zone, culminating in a collision between Braydon Coburn and Mason behind the net that summed it all up and nearly knocked Mason out of the game in the second period.

Jake Voracek, who saw his career-best 10-game point streak snapped, estimated the Flyers lost "about 80 percent of the battles." It was only the second time all season Voracek had been held without a point; the other was the only other night the Flyers were shut out, in Chicago on Oct. 21.

"You've got to play hard in this league and we didn't do that," coach Craig Berube said. "It's just soft plays. What upsets me more than anything is being soft in your own end. That's where it starts. Not being physical, not closing in on people fast, and coming out and making soft plays out of our zone. [Hextall] is probably not very happy after that performance. And I don't blame him."

 

Slap shots

Michael Del Zotto left the game in the third period and did not return with a "lower-body" injury. Ron Hextall said Del Zotto may or may not play tonight against Minnesota . . . Claude Giroux, who logged a season high in ice time, said he felt fine . . . Tonight's Flyers Hall of Fame ceremonies will begin promptly at 7 o'clock and are expected to last 30 minutes, delaying the actual start of the game . . . The Flyers (7-1-1) have picked up at least one point in eight of nine all-time games against Minnesota at Wells Fargo Center.

 


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