Scott Laughton is on one of the best runs of his career. When it comes time to vote for most improved Flyer, he’ll get consideration.
But that was the furthest thing from his mind following Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the visiting Bruins.
“I tried to make a play and obviously it went the other way and changed the momentum of the game,” he said. “I’d like to have that one back.”
The Flyers were doing a good job killing a penalty late in the second period when the contest changed after a split-second decision by Laughton.
It was a scoreless game and Laughton had a two-on-one break with Kevin Hayes. Instead of shooting, Laughton tried to feather a pass back to Hayes. The play was broken up by Charlie Coyle and the Bruins scored on the ensuing play back up ice.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault pointed out that Hayes lost a battle along the boards following Coyle’s terrific play. The two penalty-killers (Laughton and Hayes) were at the end of a shift, and Matt Grzelcyk made the Flyers pay by scoring the game’s first goal with 81 seconds left in the second period.
“He tried to make an extra pass there. If he makes the play to Hayesie, we say he’s made a great play,” Vigneault said. “If he [shoots it], we say it’s a good play.”
One of the more encouraging developments of this Flyers season has been their ability to play with, and sometimes dominate, the best teams in the league.
No such things as moral victories when you had a chance to move into first place and sweep the Bruins in a season series for the first time ever. But there is reason to be optimistic.
Ten teams other than the Flyers entered Tuesday night’s play with at least 80 points. The Orange & Black was 13-7-2 against those clubs, for a sterling .636 winning points percentage.
“I liked our game. I’d rather win, but we just went on a heck of a run,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We played pretty good hockey tonight. You could see how tight it’s going to be when you play nothing but good teams. That was a good test for us.
The Flyers were mediocre in the win Saturday over Buffalo that ran their winning streak to nine games. They were much better in the loss to Boston on Tuesday night that ended that streak. That’s hockey, eh?
Tuuka Rask made 36 saves, including monster stops on Travis Konecny in the first period and a doozy on Ivan Provorov in the third. Carter Hart made 27 saves, but saw his home record slip to 20-3-2. He had been on a 16-1 run.
The Flyers had a chance to move into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a win. Instead, they get ready for a game at Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Lightning (92 points) are one of those other top-10 teams.
“Internally, it’s a good matchup for us to see where we’re at,” Hayes said before Tuesday’s game. “It’s a good chance to watch the film the next day and see where we are next to these guys.”
The verdict: close enough to be afraid of no one entering the playoffs. Not even the Bruins, who became the first team in the league to reach 100 points.