Despite new role, Talbot eyes more production


Despite new role, Talbot eyes more production

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Scott Hartnell is sidelined with a foot injury.

Wayne Simmonds has been out with a concussion, though he’s expected back Saturday against Carolina.

Jaromir Jagr, well, he’s playing in Dallas.

There’s three reasons why the Flyers' goal production is so awful this season with just a puny 25 goals in 11 games. Their goal differential is minus-5.

There’s more to it than that, too.

Max Talbot had a career year in 2011-12 with personal highs in goal scoring (19) and points (34).

In a shortened 48-game season, no one is expecting any player in the NHL to match their previous totals.

Yet, in Talbot’s case, it’s hard to score when you’re not getting shots.

Unless your Tommy Sestito -- two shots, two goals in the same game. There are only so many Sestito’s in the world.

Anyway, Talbot has just 10 shots through 11 games. In six of them, he had just one shot. That's not going to get it done. He has just three assists this season.

“My shooting percentage was higher last year,” Talbot said.

His line and role were different, as well. He played with Jakub Voracek much of the season with a different winger on the other side.

Right now, he’s with Brayden Schenn and Voracek in a mostly checking role.

“There’s no real reason,” Talbot said. “I just got to work harder in front of the net and get some shots and rebounds.”

He doesn’t think it has anything to do with making a conscious effort to shoot more. In reality, he is shooting slightly less than last season when he averaged 1.4 shots a game. He probably would have more shots and more scoring chances in a different role.

“Before I had 19 goals, I had 13 [in Pittsburgh],” Talbot said. “That’s not why the Flyers signed me -- to score some goals.”

Indeed, when Talbot returned to Pittsburgh last season, Pens coach Dan Bylsma kidded him about becoming a goal scorer once he left the Penguins.

The thing is, the Flyers need more goals. Talbot is a guy capable of delivering even though his role is that of a defensive centerman and wing, not to mention an outstanding penalty killer.

“There’s no reason for this. I’m going to put my head down and keep working,” he said.

Coach Peter Laviolette has Talbot’s back.

“He’s used in a little bit different role this year,” Laviolette said. “He’s more on a straight checking line. Right now we need Max at center. The role might be a little different for him.

“That’s not to say he’s not getting chances or opportunities, but I think he’s done a nice job for us. He provides a lot of energy.”

Does he need to shoot more?

“I answered this a few days ago and I want to make sure it is not misconstrued this time,” Laviolette replied. “Max is having a good year. Offensively, there is room for improvement from all of our guys.

“We’re not scoring enough in general. The power play can be a little more effective, though it seems to have found some goals the last four or five games. Five-on-five, I think we’re getting better.

“We’re down in the offensive zone. There is sustained zone time that looks more like our identity and attack. But there’s probably a lot of players who fit in the category you’re putting Max in that they probably want to contribute more.”

Flyers recall Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley; Michael Raffl placed on IR

Flyers recall Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley; Michael Raffl placed on IR

UPDATED: 4:35 p.m.

The Flyers on Tuesday made an unexpected roster move, recalling forward Taylor Leier from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The 22-year-old will be available for Tuesday night's game against the visiting Buffalo Sabres (see game notes).

But why the call-up?

There were no reports of injuries following Monday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens. But the answer was revealed later Tuesday afternoon.

The team anounced it has placed Michael Raffl, who hasn't played in a week's time since leaving the 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago with an upper-body injury, on injured reserve. That frees up a roster spot and makes room for Leier.

Raffl, who's in the first-year of a three-year contract signed last season, has a goal in three games played this season.

A player on IR has to stay there for at least 14 days. But the Flyers could make the move retroactive to as far back as last Tuesday's game in Chicago. So the ball is in Hextall's court there as to how far back he wants to put Raffl and his $2.35 million cap hit on IR.

The Flyers are still going to need to free up cap space soon with the returns of Michael Del Zotto and Scott Laughton not far off in the future.

This will not be Leier's first stint with the Flyers. Along with Shayne Gostisbehere, he was called up last November and made his debut in a Nov. 14 win in Carolina. He played six games in the NHL before he was sent back down to Lehigh Valley for the rest of season. Leier did not record a point with the Flyers last season and averaged 7:43 of ice time a night.

In three games with the Phantoms this season, the 2012 fourth-round draft pick of the Flyers has three assists. Leier scored 20 goals for the Phantoms last season, including a team-high 10 power-play goals.

Leier will wear No. 58 for the Flyers. It remains to be seen if he will crack Tuesday's lineup.

Flyers-Sabres 5 things: Forget about Monday's final result

Flyers-Sabres 5 things: Forget about Monday's final result

Flyers vs. Sabres
7:30 p.m. on CSN, Pregame Live starts at 6:30

After a hard-luck 3-1 loss in Montreal to the Canadiens on Monday, the Flyers (2-3-1) return home Tuesday to the Wells Fargo Center to face the Buffalo Sabres (1-2-1) for the first time this season.

The Sabres are struggling early on this year, so Tuesday night could be a prime opportunity for the Flyers to get back on the winning side of things.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

1. It’s a new day
Despite the result, the fact of the matter is the Flyers played a very good road game on Monday in Montreal against the Habs. Shots on goal were just about even (Montreal held a 33-32 advantage) and the Flyers had excellent opportunities to tie late in the game, but a fully healthy Carey Price had other ideas. Steve Mason was great with 31 saves, many of the difficult variety, and he had no chance on Brendan Gallagher’s winning deflection late in the third. It was a seesaw battle and the Habs wound up on top when the final buzzer sounded. It goes that way sometimes.

But Tuesday is a new day, and the Flyers have a chance strike right back against the Sabres. Forget Monday’s final result. If the Flyers play the way they did Monday, they’re going to win plenty of games.

“Overall we played a pretty good game,” head coach Dave Hakstol said after Monday’s loss. “Certainly we can do better, obviously not coming out with the points. We’ve got to turn the page real quick and get ready to go for a home game tomorrow night some 19 to 20 hours from now.”

Even though Monday night’s result is still fresh, sometimes it’s good to get right back out there and try and keep the momentum of strong play going.

And the Flyers will get some reinforcements on the blue line Tuesday as Radko Gudas will return from his six-game suspension and be in the lineup. No word yet on who will sit.

2. Can’t stop Jake
Move aside Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. Jake Voracek is the new hottest Flyer.

With his slick deflection on Monday, Voracek now has three goals in his last two games and is riding a four-game point streak. As matter of fact, he has a point in all but one of the Flyers’ six games this season. He’s posted three goals and five assists for eight points so far, which is tied for fourth in the NHL in the early going.

Perhaps most encouraging about Voracek’s play early is the fact that he’s shooting the puck frequently. A natural passer, the 27-year-old forward has 21 shots on goal so far this year, which ties him for 10th most in the league. He has a nice shot when he wants to use it and he’s certainly using it this year.

Considering Voracek’s struggles last season, it has to feel good for him to get off to this kind of solid start. And it has to be reassuring for Hakstol and the Flyers. The second line with Voracek, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny is playing well as a unit, too.

3. What’s up with Buffalo?
Things got off on the wrong foot, almost literally, for the Sabres the day before the regular season started when stud sophomore and franchise pivot Jack Eichel went down during practice with a high ankle sprain. He’s likely out for about another month or so.

And things haven’t gotten much better as the Sabres have scored just 11 goals in four games this season. Those 11 goals are tied for second least in the entire league and six of them came in one game in Edmonton. It’s tough to judge the Sabres based on the small sample size of games they’ve played so far, but it’s not a good sign when more than half of a team’s goals come in one game.

Starting goalie Robin Lehner is out of Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed illness. Backup Anders Nilsson will make his first start of the regular season. Nilsson has played in three games against the Flyers in his career and owns a 2-0-0 record against them with a 2.26 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

4. Keep an eye on
Flyers: Brayden Schenn has had the Sabres’ number with six goals against them in 14 career games. That said, Schenn is still trying to find his footing this season as he’s pointless in three games since returning from his three-game suspension that opened his season. Tuesday could be a perfect time for the Flyers’ 24-year-old forward to have the breakout game he’s been looking for.

Sabres: Buffalo’s offense begins and ends with Ryan O’Reilly. He leads the Sabres with three goals this season and is tied for the team lead in points with five. He’s got nine points (six goals and three assists) in 10 career meetings with the Flyers.

5. This and that
• The Flyers went 1-1-1 last season against the Sabres. The Sabres did win in Philadelphia in overtime last October.

• The Sabres enter Philadelphia on the end of a four-game road trip that saw them tour Western Canada. But the Sabres have had four days off while the Flyers played Monday night in Montreal and had to travel home.

• The Flyers haven’t lost to the Sabres at home in regulation in the regular season since March 5, 2011.

• The Flyers have been lethal in the second period this season, scoring 13 of their 20 goals.

• He hasn't found the back of the net yet this year, but Claude Giroux comes into Tuesday’s matchup on a five-game point streak with six assists over that stretch.