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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hakstol: 'Small things' have been the difference in series so far

Dave Hakstol met with the press shortly before Game 5 of the Flyers-Capitals series at the Verizon Center Friday.

This was the conversation:

Is the team staying loose before Game 5?

“You don't change your approach. Our approach hasn't changed for a long time so it won't. It hasn't changed in the last few days. Our approach has been the same. I don't know how you characterize it. You characterize it as loose. There are a lot of ways to characterize it. We've been ready to play. We'll be ready to play tonight.”

Looking back on Game 4, did Neuvirth make an appreciable difference in how your team played?

“I think our team played very similar to the way we played the first few games. There wasn't a lot of difference to our play in Game 4 from the first three. Like I said, take out 15 minutes from Game 3, other than that our team has played pretty consistently.”

Staying out of the penalty box was a key …

“Well, that's part of it. It's certainly an important part of it. I would characterize it more as we won the specialty-teams battles. And that's the only night we were able to do that. So some nights there is going to be a lower number of minor penalties called each way. And you have to find a way to come out on the right side of that. Other nights, things are called a little more closely. For us, we still can't give those guys the easy two-minute-minor-for-slashing type penalties. We can't give them those and expect to come out on the right side of the specialty-teams battle on any given night.”

During the course of the season, you can wait for a team to settle into a system, but is it different in a short series when it comes to consistency, sticking with a lineup or a style of play?

“Well, there is balance between the two. And obviously we didn't make much in terms of changes from Game 3 to Game 4. We made a couple of adjustments in a couple of different areas. Our effort was probably a little more sustained throughout the 60 minutes. And we were able to win the hockey game. But when you look at the first couple games of this series and a lot of this series, it has been pretty close. It's been pretty tight. And small things have decided the games.”

Any adjustments to top two lines? They seemed to work well in the last game.

“The line combinations? Those aren't the adjustments, mostly, that I had thought had the effect for us. But, yes, we'll keep the combinations, obviously making the adjustment for Scott Laughton being out of the lineup, but beyond that we're going to look pretty similar in terms of our line combinations tonight as compared to two nights ago.”

Have you talked to Laughton?



“No comment. Everything you guys know. We'll keep that in the official statements.”

How is he feeling?

“You know how I operate. And you know what we've done all year long. So I'm not changing.”

About whether or not he was injured?


He was in the hospital.

“OK. We'll move on.”

Thoughts on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare being back?

“Belly's a big part of our team. He along with his line have been real important to us, five on five. Belly as a PK-er has played a big role. It will be nice to have him back in tonight. He should have fresh legs and hopefully he can help us.”

Other adjustments, not necessarily the lineup?

“I haven't talked about those and I am not going to talk about them publicly. Obviously, we made a couple of adjustments with specialty teams but like I said, we didn't make many.”  


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