Flyers

In a flash, Scott Laughton shows Flyers what he 'lost' 2 years ago

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In a flash, Scott Laughton shows Flyers what he 'lost' 2 years ago

It was Scott Laughton's first regular-season game at the Wells Fargo Center in 324 days.
 
And it took just one play to show he's a changed player.
 
Showing passion and effort in a not-so-glamorous role, Laughton made a pair of intelligent reads to score a tide-turning shorthanded goal, possibly the most influential marker Saturday in an 8-2 blowout of the Washington Capitals.
 
Playing on a late first-period penalty kill, Laughton aggressively jumped a pass near the blue line. Then, as goalie Philipp Grubauer abandoned his crease to poke the deflected puck away, Laughton played it perfectly, intercepting the attempt before flushing it in the open net for a 2-1 lead.

"That's the biggest point in the hockey game right there," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "Late in the period, for us to be able to score a shorthanded goal and turn that momentum back in our favor, I thought that was the key point of the hockey game. He made a good read and then made a heck of a play to get in and finish it."
 
The play was big for the game, but even more so for Laughton's declaration of being a different guy. During the offseason and into training camp, so much talk had been made of the 23-year-old forward's revamped game and focus.
 
This was the action.
 
"Be a good defensive player," Laughton said of his new approach, which started last season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. "I think I lost it a little bit there two years ago. Be good on the PK, taking big D-zone draws, things like that. Just tried to focus on that and continue to take it over to this year."
 
Laughton was a first-round pick of the Flyers at 20th overall in 2012. He scored in waves at the junior level, highlighted by a 40-goal, 47-assist 2013-14 season with the OHL's Oshawa Generals. After 71 games in 2015-16 with the Flyers, his first full NHL season, Laughton expressed his goals for what was next.
 
"I want to be a top-six forward in the NHL," Laughton said in April 2016. "And I am going to do everything I can this summer to try and do that.

"I know a lot of people put a third-line ceiling on me and things like that. But I played top six in junior and did all that. So that's what I am going to be looking to try to do. I am going to try to score some more goals and things like that. But that's my goal."
 
And there was nothing wrong with that. But right now, Laughton is on the fourth line and has never been in a better state with the Flyers. Following just two games with the Flyers last season and 60 with the Phantoms, Laughton had a realization.
 
He knew what general manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers truly wanted from him.
 
"I think last year really helped my game plan in all situations, really contributing down in the minors," Laughton said. "I think that was best for me and Hexy kind of told me that, played in all situations. I think it's helped my game, but at the same time, I've got to continue to go. It's only five games into the year and I've got to maintain it and be consistent."
 
In Saturday's home opener, Laughton added an even-strength tally in the third period, giving him the first two-goal game of his NHL career.
 
"He looks like he's a lot more confident, I think he knows his role and what’s expected of him," Wayne Simmonds said. "He's got a ton of offensive time at the same time, so you put him in a position to succeed and he's going to succeed, and I think that's what he's doing."
 
Through five games, Laughton leads all Flyers forwards in shorthanded ice time (11:25) and shorthanded faceoffs won (eight). Not only has he found his niche, but he also hasn't forgotten the offense. Laughton sees a way to still provide an offensive spark on the fourth line with Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl.
 
"They both make plays, they're both quick — that's what we try and do," Laughton said. "We've been playing pretty good minutes, been good on the PK. Just trying to play that role and use our skill when we can and spend a lot of time in the offensive zone — I think that's a big thing."
 
The big thing for Laughton was working his way back here.
 
"Laughts has been dialed in from Day 1 of camp," Hakstol said. "His focus, energy and effort level hasn't changed once. I think he's found some chemistry and cohesion with his two linemates. That line, we trust that group for different roles. … I think they've been a catalyst for our team. Laughts is the guy that's playing up the middle there, so he's the backbone of that line.
 
"He hit some bumps in the road last year, handled them extremely well. You know what, he's the one that deserves full credit for putting himself back in this position."

Flyers' Stanley Cup drought is taken to another level in Pittsburgh

Flyers' Stanley Cup drought is taken to another level in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — Apparently, Sunday was still a day to celebrate for Penguins fans.

Regardless of another gut-wrenching, last-minute overtime loss for the Penguins to their hated cross-state rival, a certain radio talk show host wanted Pittsburgh fans to wallow in the Flyers' misery.

Mark Madden pointed out in his column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Sunday’s game against the Flyers marked the 16,000th day since the orange and black won their second Stanley Cup championship.

And for that, apparently Penguins fans should be in a celebratory mood, as he wrote, "But Sunday is a day to celebrate, not worry. The Philadelphia Flyers visit PPG Paints Arena, and it will be exactly 16,000 days since the Flyers last won the Stanley Cup."

The 16,000-day drought inspired Penguins fans to unfurl a banner in the upper deck, and it even caught the attention of NBC play-by-play great Mike “Doc” Emrick, who referenced the 44-year drought during the second period of Sunday’s telecast.

But Madden’s personal vendetta with the Flyers and their followers caught the attention of Flyers radio host Jason Myrtetus, who exchanged Twitter jabs with the Pittsburgh shock jock.

The two radio hosts started their online feud a few hours prior to Sunday’s game (NSFW below).

Madden, who doesn’t hide his love for the Penguins, ended his column by saying, “That’s a lot of days. Many more will follow.”

Not if the Flyers keep beating the Penguins in overtime.

Not if Carter Hart plays like he did Sunday night at PPG Paints Arena. 

Perhaps Madden also needs to be reminded that Philadelphia’s Eagles and Phillies have both won championships much more recently than Pittsburgh’s Steelers and Pirates.

Then again, their misery doesn’t exactly register on Philly’s radar.

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How Flyers' Ivan Provorov 'saved the game' with the lunge of a lifetime

How Flyers' Ivan Provorov 'saved the game' with the lunge of a lifetime

PITTSBURGH — Standing in the visitor’s locker room at PPG Paints Arena, Ivan Provorov joked it’s the reason why he puts himself through such a rigorous offseason training regimen.

He may not be considered the fastest or most elusive skater, but Provorov’s effort with 1:18 remaining in regulation was arguably the best non-Carter Hart save of the season.

An empty-net goal would have given the Penguins a 2-0 lead and would have turned the lights out on the Flyers' postseason chances. 

Now, there’s a glimmer with the Flyers pulling within six points of the Columbus Blue Jackets after a 2-1 overtime win Sunday night (see observations).

Provorov outraced Nick Bjugstad just in the nick of time, as well as Patric Hornqvist, as he was able to send the puck to the boards. 

“I had no doubt in my mind,” Provorov said. “At that point, you’re giving everything you have and for the team a lot of guys did that tonight.” 

Another element of that play that doesn’t get discussed is how Provorov maintained his balance following his lunging dive and didn’t lift the net off its pegs, which may have resulted in a penalty and/or a faceoff in the Flyers' end of the ice, resulting in Hart having to come back out onto the ice.

“He saved the game, he saved the game,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. “I don’t know where he was in his shift, but it looked like [Bjugstad] had a little bit more jump in his step. He was able to get himself in position and swipe at it so they couldn’t get an opportunity.”

Thankfully for Provorov and the Flyers, he had just stepped out onto the ice just 10 seconds earlier, but nonetheless, an impressive game-saving play when the Flyers needed it most.

And perhaps even season-saving.

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