scott laughton

How Flyers' roster, lineup could change in a few ways

How Flyers' roster, lineup could change in a few ways

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers are expected to get some reinforcements during their six-game road trip.

On Friday at Flyers Skate Zone, before the team departed for San Jose, Scott Laughton practiced in contact on a line with Morgan Frost and Jakub Voracek. Laughton has missed the last five games because of a groin injury and could be activated off injured reserve as soon as Saturday to rejoin the lineup against the Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

“It’s been pretty quick but I’m still in it, still trying to get through it," Laughton said of the recovery process.

“It’s feeling better and better every day. ... It’s a fragile injury, so you don’t want to mess with it too much.”

Michael Raffl, who has been out since early December with a broken right pinkie finger, practiced in a non-contact jersey and is expected back at some point during the trip.

The Flyers' lineup will look different when those key role players return, two puck possession forwards who play important minutes on the penalty kill. The team is also 7-0-0 when Laughton records a point and 7-0-0 when Raffl records a point.

So what could change?

Andy Andreoff appears to be the odd man out when Laughton comes back. The 28-year-old forward was taking line rushes on defense Monday as an extra while Laughton joined the third line.

When Raffl returns from long-term injured reserve, he can slide into the fourth-line center role, where head coach Alain Vigneault has liked the 31-year-old. If that's the case, Mikhail Vorobyev would likely be sent back to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel has definitely won himself an extended call-up with the Flyers. The 23-year-old winger has a goal, two assists, 11 shots, 12 hits, five blocked shots and 6:30 shorthanded minutes over five games.

“I like his game," Vigneault said Monday. "Pretty much north-south, physical when he gets the opportunity, defensively he’s been in the right position, he’s been blocking shots. I like what he’s brought for us in this time, we’ve needed some help from some other people and he’s been one of the guys that has been contributing for us.”

Here's how the Flyers project to look at forward when Laughton and Raffl return:

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton-Morgan Frost-Jakub Voracek
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Michael Raffl-Tyler Pitlick

 

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Injuries to Scott Laughton, Tyler Pitlick, a lopsided fight for Joel Farabee and Flyers lose to Wild

Injuries to Scott Laughton, Tyler Pitlick, a lopsided fight for Joel Farabee and Flyers lose to Wild

BOX SCORE

With a 4-1 defeat to the Wild, the Flyers have two straight losses and they lost two more players in the process.

Alain Vigneault's team stomached a discouraging night Saturday at Xcel Energy Center, suffering consecutive losses in regulation for the first time since Oct. 27-29.

The Flyers (17-10-5) have scored just one goal in three of their last four games, resulting in three regulation losses. In their previous 17 games, the Flyers lost in regulation only twice.

The Wild (16-12-5) improved to 9-1-3 at home and 12-3-4 overall since Nov. 5.

• The Flyers entered the game without forwards Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis), Travis Konecny (concussion), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

Their only extra healthy player was defenseman Robert Hagg.

News on the health front got worse during the action as forwards Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick left the game with undisclosed injuries and did not return.

Some more roster maneuvering could be on the way as early as Sunday morning. The Flyers have no time to rest up.

• Flyers defensemen were not sharp.

Philippe Myers had a bad turnover on Zach Parise's first-period goal. Ivan Provorov had the same in the second period, which led to Eric Staal's second goal of the night to give the Wild a 3-1 lead.

Travis Sanheim and Justin Braun were also a step behind and not in good position on Staal's first goal, which turned out to be the game-winner during the opening stanza.

Just one of those games in which the Flyers were off from top to bottom.

• As a result, Carter Hart was sprawling all over the place, trying to save the Flyers. He finished with 24 stops on 27 shots.

• Joel Farabee dropped the gloves with Marcus Foligno and it was a rough matchup for the 19-year-old.

• James van Riemsdyk got the Flyers on the board 1:34 into the game. However, the lead didn't last long and the Flyers finished with just 18 shots.

• The Flyers' power play went 0 for 3 and is 6 for its last 55 (10.9 percent).

• Lindblom's jersey hung symbolically in the team's dressing room. The Flyers are rallying behind their 23-year-old brother and teammate as he starts his fight against cancer (see story).

• The Flyers are right back at it Sunday when they visit the Jets (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

 

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Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

While the Flyers lost their winning streak and point streak, they still put together a productive 2-1-0 week.

Alain Vigneault's team is 7-1-1 over its last nine games, a stretch in which the Flyers have allowed 2.11 goals per game. Since Nov. 1, the Flyers are 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for most points in the NHL at 28, continuing to make strides under the new coaching staff.

We'll get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• Scott Laughton's performance in Saturday's emotion-filled 4-3 win over the Senators served as a microcosm of his importance to the Flyers.

The team-first attitude, the hard skating, the physicality, the forechecking, the penalty killing and the secondary scoring.

He is not undervalued by the Flyers.

If I look at today’s game where it got heated, he’s one of the guys I thought that responded the best. He responded in a physical nature when the opportunity was there, but when he needed to make plays with the puck or defend, he did that — he did both of those things.

As a coach, it’s really easy to trust a player when he’s doing the right things and playing the right way on the ice.

- Vigneault

And check out these marks: the Flyers are 7-0-0 when Laughton records a point and 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of a broken finger.

• In 30 games, Ivan Provorov has already matched his goal total from last season (seven) and set career highs on the power play (four goals, six assists).

He's projected to pass his numbers from a breakout 2017-18 season in which he scored 17 goals and 41 points. The 22-year-old's rebound from his letdown 2018-19 campaign might be the most impactful development to the Flyers' overall rebound so far in 2019-20.

Before the Coyotes' 3-1 win Thursday over the Flyers, Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet extolled Provorov.

"I think he's one of the best young defensemen in the league," Tocchet said, via Coyotes public relations.

"He plays with an edge in a sense that he doesn’t play safe. He’s up the ice, he makes plays, he’s not scared the way he plays. Not so much scared physically, just the way he plays, he’s trying to win the game. As a young guy, he wants to be in those spots. When I watch him, he wants the puck. I love young kids like that, they’re not scared.”

When asked if Provorov reminded him of anyone, Tocchet said "a little bit of Phil Housley," who is a Hall of Fame blueliner and now an assistant coach with Arizona.

• Carter Hart owns 10 wins and a 2.39 goals-against average.

By Dec. 8 of last season, Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon had combined for 12 wins and a 3.30 goals-against average.

As much as some people want to knock the previous coaching staff, the Flyers were a mess in net at this point last season and things predictably unraveled. Really, from the outset of 2018-19, things were problematic between the pipes for the Flyers.

• One of the biggest signs of growth with the 2019-20 Flyers has been goal prevention. They've allowed 80 goals through 30 games. In 30 games last season, the Flyers gave up 111. That's 31 more goals.

A lot goes into that — goaltending and offseason acquisitions to name a few. But Vigneault's system has turned the Flyers into a more structured team.

Much more often compared to 2018-19, the Flyers, even if they're struggling to score, look like they're controlling games instead of letting the opposition do the honors. Through 30 games last season, the Flyers had 11 losses by three goals or more. This season, they have only four such defeats.

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