Scott Laughton has been through these scary situations before but the experience factor never makes it easier.
The Flyers’ alternate captain was involved in a dangerous collision with Montreal defenseman Kaiden Guhle on Nov. 19 during which Laughton’s head hit the ice.
That meant a minimum of a week on the sidelines.
The good news is Laughton was scheduled to return to action in Tuesday night’s rematch game against the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center, with the Flyers looking to break a 10-game (0-7-3) winless streak.
How difficult has it been to have to sit and watch?
“It’s frustrating,’’ he admitted after the morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “Just with everything going on and the way we’ve kind of been going. Hopefully get back and help the guys be part of the solution.’’
While the news about Laughton was positive, there was a flip side on the injury front. Tony DeAngelo, who was banged up blocking a shot in Saturday night’s loss at the Island, appeared to suffer another injury in the morning skate and was scratched for Tuesday night’s game.
Laughton has been skating to keep his conditioning up.
“It feels really good out there,’’ he said. “I was skating a few days after (the hit). I’m really excited to get back and join these guys.’’
Laughton recalled what happened on the play.
“It was on the power play and I really didn’t expect him to step up,’’ Laughton said. “His feet landed where I was supposed to land. . .where I would put my arms out to protect myself.
“Kind of hit my head on the ice. It was scary afterwards but I did every evaluation after and it was all good to go. So everything was good.’’
As for this 10-game slump, Laughton says the team still believes it can get back in the playoff chase. It’s only November and there is still three-quarters of the season to play.
“That’s how you have to think,’’ he said. “Even without the (sidelined) guys, we started the year 7-3. We got off to a really good start. Obviously you don’t want to go on these skids. But you’re only two, three games back of .500. That’s the positive here. Take it a day at a time, try to chip away at it. Get some bodies back and continue to roll. We’re really not that far out.’’
>Stressing Hayes’ defense
Much has been made of Tortorella’s decision to move Kevin Hayes from center to wing. It’s a pretty big deal because it’s the first time in his career with the Flyers he hasn’t played in the pivot.
The coach wants more out of Hayes defensively. Playing the wing has a little bit less responsibility in that part of the game. Hopefully he can work his way back into the coach’s good graces.
“Kevin’s trying,’’ Tortorella said. “This isn’t a player that’s stubborn. He’s caring and he’s trying to be the best he can be. I think he has bad habits. It’s not just from one year, two years – it’s probably throughout his career.
“It’s not foreign for offensive people to struggle defensively. We just don’t have the firepower to overcome some of those things. We’re asking him to change a little bit and concentrate a little bit on that. He’s concentrating on that but he’s still making mistakes. A lot of our other guys have, too, so we’re going to continue to work with him.’’
Originally, when Tortorella first made the move, he said he wanted to give Noah Cates more time in the middle. But there was an ulterior motive.
“I’m trying to take a little pressure off him (Hayes),’’ Tortorella said. “Because we need his damn offense. I want him to concentrate on that, too, not lose sight there.’’
The Flyers have been discussing ways to get off to better starts, including a team meeting to go over that subject among others.
Going into Tuesday night’s game, the Flyers had allowed opponents to score first 16 times in 22 games. Ultimately, those slow getaways have resulted in less than positive results.
“I wouldn’t say all the starts have been bad this year,’’ Tortorella said. “But we just can’t (seem) to score the first goal.’’
That has to change because it’s not a formula for success on a long-term basis.
Rookie defenseman Egor Zamula was scheduled to return to the lineup after spending some 10 days with the Phantoms.
Tortorella was asked what he expects from the young Russian.
“Do some of the good things he’s done as far as moving the puck and seeing the ice,’’ the coach said. “The reason why he needs to play is for him to work on his reads. And you can’t get that done in practice. Those are game situations.
“Those are the things that need improvement. You only get that through experience.’’
>Like a ‘toilet seat?’
Tortorella wants more consistency from Morgan Frost. He’s been up and down this season.
In fact, the coach used some descriptive language to explain what’s happening with the young center right now.
“I still think he’s up and down like a toilet seat as far as you see him coming and then he dips,’’ Tortorella said. “You hope it levels out and keeps on going in a positive direction.
“You can see it’s there but it’s still inconsistent. Keep on putting him in situations, and see if they loosen up their hands on the stick and feel more confident.’’