PHILADELPHIA – With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the Flyers to start looking at what they have waiting in the wings.
One of those hidden gems just might be 25-year-old center Tanner Laczynski, who began the season here and was moving along quite nicely until a reported ankle injury on Dec. 5 put him on the sidelines for exactly three months.
On Sunday night, Laczynski returned to the lineup for the home game against the Detroit Red Wings and coach John Tortorella said he was looking forward to see whether the Illnois native could pick up where he left off.
Tortorella was asked if he was confident Laczynski would not try to do too much in his first game back.
“Yes, he’s smart enough to understand that,” the coach said in his pre-game briefing at the Wells Fargo Center. “He’s been out for a while. As a team, we need to manage our game and as an individual he needs to manage his shifts.”
Laczynski played 19 games with the Flyers this season before he was injured.
>Playing for pride
On Saturday, Tortorella talked about the Flyers’ last 20 games and the pride factor.
He said he didn’t have to remind his players. They’re professionals, make a good living and that alone should be enough of an incentive.
Plus, Tortorella has made it clear every single player on the roster is going through an evaluation period and some careers could hinge on these last six weeks.
That said, he doesn’t have to keep reminding his players every five minutes.
“We’ve talked about it enough,” he said. “I’m not going to beat them over the head with that. Sometimes you can almost insult them if you keep talking about it.
“I think the biggest key for us is just managing the game. We’ve had an epidemic of bad shifts in the second period that have cost us scoring chances against us. We’re concentrating on little things to give ourselves a chance.”
Tortorella said teaching players game management is a big part of coaching.
“As we build the team, as we try to add some skill, managing the game is a big part of it,” he said. “Especially with 20 games left, not getting sloppy. At times, concentration can slip. I thought they did a great job against the Rangers (3-2 overtime loss last Wednesday). Hopefully we can do that again tonight.”
>More talent needed?
On Friday, general manager Chuck Fletcher said “we need more talent and that’s on me.”
One day later, Tortorella was questioned about whether the Flyers were far enough along in their rebuilding process to consider adding proven talent by way of trades or free agency once the offseason begins this summer.
“We don’t have enough talent,” Tortorella admitted. “There’s no question about that. Trading deadline, free-agent deadline. . .deadlines are hard on teams sometime. You can set your team back years because you think you have to do something at a deadline.
“I think drafts in the summertime is a much more important time for us. When you’re talking about for me, I think it was the greatest non-move by our general manager not signing Johnny Gaudreau (who eventually went to Columbus). Greatest non-move. We’re nowhere near a signing like that. I say that because I think we’re at the other end of it.”
Again, that’s why the final 20 games are important – to give team brass a sense of what they need when summer rolls around.
“I think some skill needs to be brought in,” he said. “But it’s probably going to be the second tier skill. The second-, third-line guys that can add skill so we can keep growing our kids.
“Get younger, add some skill and keep on growing that way. I can’t put a time on when you can look at a Johnny Gaudreau. It depends on what we’re doing in the next phase. It’s not just getting young, we need to backfill a little bit. And there are going to be some players out there that help us in that area.
“But it’s not going for the home run right now. We’re not ready because we still need to develop our foundation.”