Flyers' Laughton deserves more time
NEW YORK _ Like Flyers GM Ron Hextall (see story), coach Craig Berube was fuming after the team's listless 2-0 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Berube said there were only five Flyers who showed any life: Steve Mason, Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Jake Voracek, and Scott Laughton.
Laughton played just seven minutes in his first NHL game in two years, but didn't look out of place.He centered the fourth line, with Chris VandeVelde and Zac Rinaldo as his wingers.
The 20-year-old Laughton could be sent back to the Phantoms, but it says here the Flyers should move him to the third line and give him a look-see for at least a few weeks, alongside Vinny Lecavalier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
In that scenario, struggling R.J. Umberger would drop down to the fourth line.
At Wednesday's morning skate, the speedy Laughton had a long conversation with Lecavalier, owner of 405 career goals. At the time, it appeared as if Laughton would center Lecavalier and Bellemare.
"I just said, 'Just talk to me tonight. Let's talk to each other,' " Laughton said. "…We have three centermen who can all play the position and take draws, so we can all fill in for each other, so I think it's going to be good."
That was before the Flyers learned that Giroux was going to be able to play, causing the lines to be altered and dropping Laughton to the fourth line.
Laughton says he feels more relaxed than in his first stint with the Flyers two seasons ago.
"I'm definitely a little more confident now," he said after Wednesday's morning skate. "Two years ago, I started during the lockout year. I was 18 years old out of junior and didn't really know what to expect."
Playing 13 AHL games this year was "good for me," he said.
Laughton made a smooth transition from juniors to the AHL; he had six goals and 11 points in 13 games with the Phantoms this season.
"You're playing against men instead of 16 year olds; you're playing against pretty big guys and it's a way tougher game _ and you don't have time with the puck," he said. "I've been fortunate and given lots of opportunities and ice time, and I think I've thrived on that."
Laughton, the team's No. 1 draft pick in 2012, is critical of himself.
"I think there's definitely bad habits that are still in my game that I still need to work out," he said. "Playing in junior, where you're playing a lot of minutes, you tend to circle and not stop on the play. I've still been doing lots of video with (Phantoms assistant) Riley Cote and trying to get those quirks out of my game, and trying to get better, which I think I've done so far."
Laughton said he was "surprised and excited at the same time" to get the call-up.
"I'm just trying to earn my minutes every night and trying to play my game, and if I do that, I think I'll earn those minutes," he said.
Asked if he felt he was auditioning to remain with the big-league team, Laughton said, "I definitely want to stay. That's the goal, but I'm going to take it day by day. I'm not looking ahead to any games. I'm looking forward to tonight and what I can do to help this team win."
Breakaways. Injured D-men Luke Schenn and Andrew MacDonald remained out of the lineup. With Michael Del Zotto suffering an injury Wednesday, one of them may play Thursday against the Wild.