Swing By Any Time, Sabres: Huge Nights All Around in 7-2 Flyers Win

Swing By Any Time, Sabres: Huge Nights All Around in 7-2 Flyers Win

We didn't quite get the fast start we were hoping for from the Flyers, but they sure made up for it. They were booed off the ice after a lousy first period saw them down 2-0, and in the dressing room, Peter Laviolette probably gave it to them much worse. They responded with four unanswered goals in the second, headed off to a standing ovation, then came back out and continued to pile on.

Max Talbot played a huge role in turning the game around, and he has two more goals to add to his career high. Same goes for Wayne Simmonds, who also tallied a pair to give him 20 on the season. And they weren't even the Flyers' high scorers. With a small army of injured forwards, the Flyers scoring depth was on display.

Let's get a look at why so many Flyers will remember this one for years to come.

UGLY START
Already without Jaromir Jagr (flu) and JVR (concussion), the Flyers got a scare when Simmonds' face was cut during warmups. Simmonds don the full face shield, seemingly with no ill effects. But the Flyers looked to be in some serious trouble early, conceding the game's first two goals. Jason Pominville was as open as it gets on the back door when he slammed home a Tyler Myers pass that went through the crease. Thomas Vanek made Ilya Bryzgalov look shaky on a blazing slapshot, and the fans began to prepare the torches and pitchforks.

Even after having seen it all shake out, it's still kinda nuts to look back to that first period and think the Sabres wouldn't score again, while the Flyers scored at will and probably pushed Buffalo a little further into the "Sellers" column.

ALL OF THE GOALS
A lot of Flyers are going to remember this one, with some clear career highlights mixed into a seven-goal surge.

The top line was sans Jagr, and, nothing against the 40-year-old surgeon, but his linemates seemed to do OK without him. Claude Giroux was a silent killer, putting FIVE POINTS on the board, all on assists, getting him within two points of Evgeni Malkin's league-best 69. G's linemate Scott Hartnell also had a big night, scoring a goal and assisting three others. Talbot did some time with them, as did Jake Voracek, both of whom also scored.

Durrrty Second
Talbot reminded me of Mike Richards in some old games when the Flyers got off to a bad start. He got loud with his play, scoring, scrapping, and drawing ire. Every shift he took in the second period, you knew where he was on the ice. His deflection of a Braydon Coburn shot was very nice, and opened the scoring floodgates for the Flyers.

Simmonds got the next two, both on the power play and nearly mirror images of each other. You might think wearing the full face shield would mess with his ability to play puck at his feet, but both of Simmer's goals came from in tight, putting home juicy rebounds off the pads of Jhonas Enroth. He now has 20 goals, nine of which came on the man advantage. Kind of amazing that in 49 games as a King, Richards has six fewer goals than Simmonds does in 56.

Erik Gustafsson gets a puck with a ring of tape and some marker on it after potting his first NHL goal to close out the scoring in a four-goal Flyers second.

Give some props to Tom Sestito for kickstarting the second period with a nice fight against Zack Kassian. Sestito appeared to have the better of Kassian most of the way, but got turned around and popped a few times before they both fell to the ice. Something went wrong there for Tito, who left the game with a lower-body injury and would not return.

Murderous Third
Talbot scored again in the second, giving him 16 on the season. The goal looked a bit like the Sabres' first tally, with Eric Wellwood sending a long pass across the slot to a wide open shooter. Talbot went to one knee and buried the one-timer.

Jake Voracek became the 10th Flyer in double digits for goals, and Hartnell closed the night's account with his 27th, putting home an amazing saucer pass from Matt Read. Seven to freaking two.

CHASERS
In the teams' first meeting, Ryan Miller gave up three goals on 11 shots and was pulled for Enroth. Miller would give up five goals in the next meeting. Tonight, Enroth got the start, and despite none of the goals allowed really being on him (a deflection and two rebounds—all screened by the eventual scorer), was pulled for Miller. Who proceeded to give up four goals of his own…

DANNY DOWN
In the first period, everyone's favorite Buffalo Sabre (Patrick Kaleta) smeared Danny Briere along the boards and into the stanchion. Briere didn't seem terribly affected by it, taking a slashing penalty as revenge. But, after serving that out, Briere skated off the ice and would not return with a currently undisclosed upper-body injury. With his concussion earlier this season, gotta be a bit worried there. [video]

VIDEO RECAP

REMEDY
It's just one game after a handful of crappy ones, but the Flyers showed almost exactly what we needed to see. There was the lousy start, but really, who cares about that right now. No goals against on the penalty kill. Two power play goals. Career highs.

Just can't rest on any of those feelings. Huge game against Pittsburgh this Saturday.

Eagles Stay or Go Part 3: Trey Burton to Vinny Curry

Eagles Stay or Go Part 3: Trey Burton to Vinny Curry

In the third of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 3 is Burton to Curry.

Trey Burton
Restricted free agent

Roob: Burton caught 14 passes the first nine games of the year and 23 the last six games of the year. One of the few Eagles who actually showed significant improvement as the year went on. He did drop a few too many passes, which is surprising for the usually sure-handed tight end. But overall Burton continued to progress and show signs that he can be a very good receiver in this offense. Burton isn’t a Zach Ertz, but there’s no reason he and Ertz can’t be a pretty potent 1-2 tight end punch. Burton will catch 50 passes next year and continue to improve as a blocker. A nice player who can do a lot of different things. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Burton had a career-high 37 catches in 2016 after having just three in his first three seasons. The Eagles would love to have Burton back next season, but they might not be able to afford it. They really have two options. One would be to use the lowest tender, which would allow teams to negotiate with him and sign him without compensation; that price would be about $1.8 million. Or they could place a second-round tender on him, which means any team that signs him would have to give the Eagles a second-round pick; that price would be around $2.75 million next season. If the Eagles place the original round (lowest) tender on him, which I see happening, other teams might be interested. The Eagles would then have the ability to match an offer, but how much money are they going to put into the tight end position? 

Verdict: GOES

Nolan Carroll
Unrestricted free agent

Roob: Carroll isn’t as bad as Nnamdi Asomugha or Byron Maxwell or Bradley Fletcher or even Leodis McKelvin, but he is yet another in a seemingly endless list of free-agent cornerbacks the Eagles have spent a fortune for that haven’t panned out. Carroll isn’t awful, but let’s be honest. He’s really not much of a playmaker, he gets beat way too often, he’s inconsistent and the Eagles need to get better at corner. Carroll is a free agent, and I don’t see any reason to re-sign him. He had just one interception this year, and 44 NFL cornerbacks had more. He’s just a guy, and the Eagles need more than that. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Carroll was brought back on a one-year deal for 2016 after he visited with the Cowboys. The deal wasn’t worth a ton — just over $2 million — so they could go with the same type of deal to bring him back for next season. But do they want to? Carroll didn’t have his best season and even admitted as much. It might be time to part ways and try to upgrade at the position long term. 

Verdict: GOES

Brent Celek
Cap hit: $5M

Roob: Celek isn’t going anywhere. Thanks to that somewhat mystifying three-year contract extension last offseason, he would count $6 million in dead money if the Eagles released him. As opposed to $2 million in salary. So Celek, who is still a capable blocker and catches just about everything he can get to, will be back for an 11th year in an Eagles uniform. I have no problem with Celek staying. He's been a tremendous Eagle on and off the field for a long, long time. It’s just the Eagles have so many weaknesses and then this glut of tight ends, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. But at least they’re deep somewhere. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Yeah, $5 million is a big cap hit for a guy who has pretty much become a blocking tight end. With his new deal, though, the Eagles wouldn’t save money if they cut him. And they probably wouldn’t want to anyway. I’m not really one for keeping a guy just for leadership, but I think the Eagles want Celek to retire as an Eagle. If he can hold on for two more seasons, he’ll do that. 

Verdict: STAYS

Don Cherry

Roob: The former Villanova Wildcat will get a chance to impress during offseason workouts, but his most likely landing spot if he impresses is the practice squad. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Villanova linebacker spent most of the 2016 season on the Eagles’ practice squad, so he’s an unlikely candidate to make the 53-man roster in 2017. Still, he’ll be in training camp and get a chance to prove himself. Maybe he can hang on the practice squad another year. 

Verdict: GOES

Fletcher Cox
Cap hit: $9.4M

Roob: Cox was good this year but not as dominating as last year, and it will be interesting to watch how his career progresses as the huge base salaries start to kick in. Cox has a $9.4 million cap hit this year, $17.9 the following year and as high as $22 million in 2019 before dropping to $20.3 million, $17.2 million and $17.1 million. Needless to say, that is an unprecedented investment. The Eagles aren’t paying him to be good, they’re paying him to be one of the upper-echelon elite defensive players in the NFL, and this year, he just wasn’t on that level. He’s not going anywhere for a long time, but he has to be consistently better than he was this past season for that contract to be worth it. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: A tough one here. Just kidding. Cox might have had a down season statistically, finishing with just 6½ sacks, but those stats don’t tell the whole story. Cox is still the most disruptive force on the Eagles’ defense and brings double teams all the time, which in theory should help his teammates. He needs to eventually find ways to beat those double teams and I think he will. 

Verdict: STAYS

Vinny Curry
Cap hit: $9M

Roob: Curry’s another one who’s not going anywhere. You want to cut him after a disappointing 2½-sack season? Get ready for a $15 million dead money hit. That’s not happening. Curry’s five-year, $46.25 million contract looks like a mistake now, but the Eagles can’t get out from under it until 2018 at the earliest. Curry will be here for at least one more year. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Curry got paid last offseason and didn’t have much to show for it in 2016. He signed a five-year extension worth $46.25 million and then went out and played just 43 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and had just 2½ sacks. That’s the same number of sacks Marcus Smith had in 2016. Curry had nine sacks in 2014 and has 10 in the other combined four years of his career. But that contract is just kicking in and he’s not going anywhere. 

Verdict: STAYS

Tanner Laczynski's development not being lost in sweet freshman year at Ohio State

Tanner Laczynski's development not being lost in sweet freshman year at Ohio State

TORONTO — First semester of college can often be a challenge for many students, but for Tanner Laczynski, the experience was a sweet one — literally. 

Part of Laczynski’s course load at Ohio State University was “Chocolate Science.” According to the course website, students receive an “introduction to science and business of chocolate. Students develop and market a chocolate product as part of a virtual company. Students taste commercial products.” 

Laczynski, who plans to declare his major in business in his second semester, got a lesson in chocolates from around the world during the course. 

“Chocolate Science wasn't bad,” Laczynski said with a laugh a few weeks ago. “All I did was eat chocolate and write a paper about it. There's lots of different chocolate, and they all taste good.” 

Growing up 43 miles outside of Chicago in Shorewood, Illinois, Laczynski wasn’t a big football fan, saying there wasn’t much to cheer for with respects to the Bears, but since relocating to the Buckeye State, he’s taken up interest in the local team. 

“That's a big part of it,” Laczynski said of attending OSU. “I've been to two games, they haven't been the strongest opponents so kind of blowouts.” 

Laczynski was in the middle of a nap when the Flyers used their sixth-round pick to select him on the second day of the 2016 NHL draft. He was admittedly startled to be woken up by his parents, Ken and Dawn, along with sister Payton and brother Hayden.

“I'd just gotten back home from coaching some kids, it was early in the morning, came back, took a nap and my parents were all excited,” Laczynski said. “I was still tired from my nap, but woke up pretty quick. 

“They just kind of attacked me so I was kind of like, 'What's going on?' at first. That was unbelievable and it's a moment I won't forget."

After a quick phone call from his agent, Flyers amateur scout Nick Pryor and John Riley, in charge of player development in Philly, were on the phone to welcome Laczynski to the club. 

This season, the 19-year-old had six goals and 16 assists in 15 games prior to leaving to join Team USA at the World Junior Hockey Championships.  

The under-20 tournament is the third time Laczynski has represented the U.S. internationally. He also wore Team USA colors for the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament and the under-19 World Junior A Challenge.

Through the first six games at the world juniors, Laczynski tallied one goal and an assist. He missed the semifinals against Russia because of an illness, but was in the lineup as the Americans defeated the Canadians, 5-4, in a shootout to win gold.

Despite being just three months into his first year at OSU, the Flyers remain in constant communication with their prospect. 

“I talk to John Riley quite a bit, he's always in contact with me sending me game film and sending me clips of NHL highlights and stuff like that,” Laczynski said. “We keep in touch, it's a relationship and it's nice to keep in touch with him.”

During his freshman season, skating has been an area of focus for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward.

“I think my big thing is my first couple steps, just my quickness, stopping, getting back on it. I think that's my biggest thing,” he said. “Once I get that down, I feel like I have the speed, but just build an extra step, just improve on that, I think that'll be a tremendous help to my game.” 

Laczynski, who spent three seasons in the USHL prior to committing to the Buckeyes, said he tries to model his game after one-time Flyer Jaromir Jagr. 

“He's kind of the guy that I watched a lot just because of his puck protection and everything,” Laczynski said. “I try to kind of use my body to protect the puck down low and create some chances in the offensive zone. 

“He's got a really good stick — I try to watch that and have an active stick in the defensive zone and offensive zone, as well.” 

In his conversations with Riley and Pryor, the expectations for Laczynski are clear.

“Their goal for me is just to consistently play nine out of 10 nights instead of that seven out of 10 nights and get my game elevated a little bit more, play more consistently,” Laczynski said.

“I think that's the biggest thing.”