After back-to-back wins for only the second time this season, rookie Flyers coach Dave Hakstol was in a good mood.

Following Saturday’s 3-0 win over the New York Rangers, he even smiled. His teeth were showing and everything.

Usually stone-faced postgame, after victory or defeat, the confident first-year NHL coach couldn’t help himself. It’s been that kind of year. Reasons to smile have been hard to come by.

“Our team has done a real good job of sticking together through thick and thin over the last few weeks,” Hakstol said.

Even after four points in less than 24 hours, the Flyers are only three points from the basement of the Metropolitan Division. Losing six in a row at one point and five out of six in a different stretch will do that.

Amid all that, Hakstol likely has no reason to worry about yet another slow start to the season. There’s a strong argument that when he was hired out of the University of North Dakota, he wasn’t brought here to coach this year’s team as much as he was to coach the team three years from now.

“It was one of the attractive things, that Dave has coached an age group from really 18 to 24, 25,” general manager Ron Hextall said back in May when he hired Hakstol. “That was one of the things you think about, yes. We have a lot of young players on our team, but we also have a number coming, so that was a factor for sure – how has Dave developed young players, how has he integrated young players into his lineup, how you bring players together.”

Everyone in the Flyers’ front office and in the locker room said the right things at the beginning of the season. They claimed they were a playoff team, but it’s increasingly looking like that won’t be the case unless this weekend’s pair of wins sparks an epic winning streak