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Flyers identity crisis continues as playoffs remain goal for Hextall (Puck Daddy)

The Philadelphia Flyers still have a goal. It’s plain, it’s stated, it’s obvious by general manager Ron Hextall. And that would be per … “Our goal is still to make the playoffs,” Hextall responded. “Until we’re officially out, that will continue to be our goal.” Goo … good luck with that. The Flyers are, let’s see …  nine points back of Boston with the Bruins having two games in hand. Philly is also behind Ottawa and Florida, who also have games in hand on the Flyers. Philadelphia’s goaltending coach left last week. The Flyers dealt Braydon Coburn at the trading deadline . What could lead to such misguided principles heading into Thursday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues?  “We’ve shown how good we can be,” Hextall said. “At times, we aren’t very good. That’s the frustrating part, because it’s there. For myself, I evaluate things over the course of the year – not one game. [Sunday’s loss in New Jersey] was predictable but it’s not acceptable. But I’m not going to put too much into the last two games and come to some silly evaluation of where we are as a team.” But there’s a misconception as to what the Flyers are, and what Hextall thinks they could be. Do they have great scoring in Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek? Absolutely. But that’s about it, beyond maybe forward Wayne Simmonds and goaltender Steve Mason the team has underperformed.  Per the NHL’s enhanced stats website, Philadelphia’s shot attempts are at a minus-29 differential, which puts Philly in the bottom half of the NHL. And while Philadelphia may have solid offensive stars, as owner Ed Snider pointed out earlier in the year … the ‘secondary scoring’ has been an issue. From the Philadelphia Inquirer: A year ago, the Flyers had seven players who scored at least 20 goals: Wayne Simmonds (29), Claude Giroux (28), Jake Voracek (23), Matt Read (22), Brayden Schenn (20), Vinny Lecavalier (20), and Scott Hartnell (20). This season, they have only two – Simmonds (26) and Voracek (20) – with 14 games left. Giroux (18) also figures to crack the 20-goal plateau, though he has just two goals in his last 20 games.   Also, we don’t quite know what the Flyers are doing. Are they rebuilding? Are they reloading? Are they refreshing? Are they still legitimately going for the playoffs? Per again: They are not fast. They are not physical. They are not young. They are not crafty. They do not move the puck well defensively. On top of all of those things, they are not an especially tough team to play against. Burn baby … ouch. That didn’t sound good at all. And that probably answered all our questions from the previous paragraph.  – – – – – – – Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY