scott laughton

Scott Laughton drops the gloves for Flyers' 1st fight of 2018-19 season

Scott Laughton drops the gloves for Flyers' 1st fight of 2018-19 season

That seemed like a pretty good time for the Flyers' first fight of the 2018-19 season.

Directly off the faceoff after the Sabres took a 4-0 lead with eight seconds left in the first period Wednesday, Scott Laughton dropped the gloves with Johan Larsson, which you can watch in the video above.

Good for Laughton, who has been one of the Flyers' best and most consistent players this season, showing effort every night. He answered the bell here in an attempt to provide some kind of energy to a lifeless Flyers team, which had an absolutely disastrous opening stanza.

Alex Lyon, making his season debut, fell behind 3-0 just 8:55 into the action.

This is a mini gut check for the Flyers, who entered the game losers of three straight. Wednesday kicked off a stretch of three games in four days against teams with a combined record of 21-2-1 in their last 24 games.

Let's see if Laughton's scrap wakes up the Flyers.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers should see a few (special) things a bit more clearly ... or you would hope

Flyers should see a few (special) things a bit more clearly ... or you would hope

BOX SCORE

The Flyers had played pretty darn well leading into Tuesday night, the middle point of their five-game homestand.

They were 5-0-1 over the past six games and made a dent in evening out their lopsided goal differential by outscoring the opposition 25-14 during that stretch.

If you recall, prior to then, the Flyers were surrendering the NHL's most goals at 46 through 11 games, a 4-7-0 start flooding with concerns.

Nothing was overly concerning about the Flyers' 2-1 loss Tuesday to the Panthers. They made a dominant charge in the third period to nearly erase a two-goal deficit and extend their point streak to seven games (see observations).

It didn't happen, but the Flyers will take that closing effort any night.

However, a worrisome area that has stuck out like a sore thumb didn't get better.

Special teams.

And that's concerning no matter how much the Flyers have swung things in the right direction.

The Flyers should have a few takeaways from Tuesday.

On one front, Scott Laughton has become a prime example of how the team's penalty kill can dig itself out from a ranking of 30th in the NHL. The quick and scrappy forward should lead a clinic at practice one day. 

The Flyers allowed a power-play goal Tuesday in three shorthanded opportunities, but Laughton was superb in the way he attacks puck carriers and forces the opposition into its decisions instead of sitting back and allowing it to freely roam.

If the Flyers collectively utilized Laughton's mindset and aggressiveness on the penalty kill, they'd be in much better shape than 19 power-play goals against, tied for worst in the NHL.

On another front, the Flyers left Tuesday knowing their power play is still in trouble. The team went on just one man-advantage opportunity and the first unit couldn't get the puck into the offensive zone, while the second group couldn't salvage it.

"We had one power play and we just couldn't get set up," Claude Giroux said. "I don't want to judge the power play off of only one power play, but we definitely need to be better, especially if we have only one power play."

The man advantage was not a perceived weakness entering 2018-19. Since Oct. 13, the Flyers' power play is 3 for 39, worst in the NHL. Overall, it ranks 28th on the season at 13.6 percent.

The Flyers have tried plenty to light a spark, even taking mainstays Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek off the top unit to bump up Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick. Still, nothing has budged and the Flyers look desperate for James van Riemsdyk's return (see story).

"It's going to turn around," Voracek said. "We have too many talented players not to have a good power play."

Voracek has a point. It should balance out, just like the Flyers' ugly start did. 

Right now, though, the special teams are not pretty and need to change.

Watching more of Laughton and getting back van Riemsdyk would be a start.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers 5, Coyotes 4 (OT): Wild win kicks off 5-game homestand

Flyers 5, Coyotes 4 (OT): Wild win kicks off 5-game homestand

BOX SCORE

The Flyers came back from a four-game road trip and gave the fans one impressive comeback.

Shayne Gostisbehere scored the game-winner 1:01 into overtime to give the Flyers a 5-4 overtime victory Thursday over the Coyotes.

They’re now 4-0-1 in their last five games.

How did the Flyers greet their home fans and how did they almost let it get away in a span of just 24 seconds?

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• Dave Hakstol called a timeout after the Flyers allowed two second-period shorthanded goals in 24 seconds.

The first one was unfortunate after the referee got in the way of Gostisbehere trying to handle the puck along the boards and it got caught up in the ref’s skates. Just a bad break.

On the second shorthanded goal, Oskar Lindblom attempted to rim the puck around the boards, but it was intercepted and Michael Grabner (one of the top-five fastest players in the league) outraced Jakub Voracek before flipping a backhanded shot over Calvin Pickard’s shoulder. Just like that, the Flyers were down, 4-2.  

• The Flyers came out with the juice and energy they were hoping for as they scored two goals in the first 5:47 to grab an early 2-0 lead.

Travis Sanheim stepped up at the blue line and forced the turnover, but the eye-popping play was Claude Giroux’s pass to Travis Konecny in which he threaded a pass between two Arizona defenders. It was a great give-and-go play between Konecny and Giroux, the type of chemistry that’s starting to develop as they’ve now spent the past seven games together on the same line.

• Where did the Southern California version of Ivan Provorov go? The Flyers' top defender resumed his poor play on home ice with two first-period turnovers. Pickard had to bail out Provorov and the Flyers on both as a result.

Provorov was credited with three giveaways in the first 20 minutes and Christian Folin had a pair of turnovers as well. This is an area the Flyers must clean up if they are going to win consistently on home ice.

• Aside from the two shorthanded breakaways, I didn't like the first two goals Pickard allowed. The first came on the power play in which Pickard was screened, but he has to do a better job of fighting through the screen, especially on a shot from the point just inside the blue line.

Personally, I’d rather see the Flyers go with Alex Lyon, who looks more like an NHL-ready backup than Pickard.

Pickard was pulled for Brian Elliott during the second period.

• I liked the push the Flyers had in the final 10 minutes of the third period. There weren’t many prime chances with the Coyotes clogging the middle of the ice. The Flyers ultimately scored the game-tying goal as Dale Weise broke free on a breakaway and took the lead pass from Gostisbehere. Weise had the puck taken off his stick for a brief moment but got it back at the last second to roof it past Darcy Kuemper.

Weise has been playing some of his best hockey since joining the Flyers and his first goal of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.  

• I’ve always admired the smoothness to Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s game, playing with such command and poise. For a defenseman who doesn’t appear to play a physical game, Ekman-Larsson is second on the Coyotes in hits and he had a huge collision on Lindblom in the third period.

Interestingly, a few years ago, former Flyers defenseman Mark Howe told me if he could build a team around any young defenseman, he’d select Ekman-Larsson, who is close to becoming a Norris Trophy finalist.  

• The Wells Fargo fans did their part, feeding off the success from the Flyers' recent road trip. They were on the edge of their seats as the Flyers fought for that game-tying goal and they broke out the “Let’s Go Flyers” chants midway through the third period. The Flyers can’t say they didn’t have the support from their fans in this one.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers