The last time Scott Laughton recalls being this mad at his stick, he put it over his knee.
``I charley-horsed myself,’’ the 24-year-old Flyers forward said. ``[Valtteri] Filppula was laughing at me so …’’
So, so much for the uncharacteristic histrionics.
That’s not his style. Laughton’s demeanor is more suited for a career in aeronautics than one in hockey. He’s the soothing voice in the cabin during turbulence, the guy most likely to figure out the spaceship is going to miss the moon and make the appropriate corrections.
``He takes faceoffs,’’ Flyers interim coach Scott Gordon was saying. ``He kills penalties. When the game’s on the line, you want to have two centermen. He’s a guy you can put out there.’’
And out there. And out there.
As the Flyers’ eight-game winning streak grew, Laughton saw his ice time grow, too. Used to protect the Flyers’ 2-1 lead against Vancouver on Monday night, he logged nearly 21 minutes of ice time, more than even Claude Giroux. Protecting slim leads needs slim margins of error, and the only place where that is lacking in Laughton’s game right now is when he lines up a shot.
He’s, well, a bit snakebit. He has missed open nets, partially covered nets. Laughton hasn’t found the back of the net with a puck since Dec. 15, and before that, it was early November. Early Thursday night in the Flyers’ shootout loss to the Kings, a deflected puck found its way to his stick with nothing but an open net in front of him. It hopped over.
Later, he redirected a puck heading wide of the net … wide of the net.
``I would say so,’’ he said when asked if he was frustrated. ``Here and there, I’m getting chances. I think at the start of the year I was getting a ton of chances especially shorthanded and things like that. I still think I’m playing good hockey. And I never really get down on myself. Just trying to work to get better and to get those opportunities. When I do get them, I’m going to keep trying to bury them.’’
It’s not as if he’s been ineffective on offense. Both Nolan Patrick and Wayne Simmonds have found their offense playing alongside Laughton during the Flyers’ nine-game points streak. And Laughton has been a key figure in the second-half curing of the Flyers penalty kill.
Said Gordon: ``He’s frustrated that he hasn’t scored in a while. But like I told him, that’s going to come if you keep doing the right things. The biggest thing is somebody needs to do what you’re doing when you’re not scoring. Because we have other guys who can score.
"We need that reliability to have those shifts that you can get in and establish that forecheck. You make good decisions on your entries or you chase down your own chips and whether it’s to eat the clock or change momentum, that’s an important part to any hockey team to have players who can do that.’’
Laughton gets that. It’s one reason he hasn’t snapped his stick. Yet. But if inclined, he has an improved plan for it.
``You’ve got to break them not over the rubber of the bench,’’ he quipped. ``You’ve got to break them over the plastic.’’