Talbot a Perfect Fit
There have been several changes in Philadelphia over the past few months.
Following a hectic offseason that saw the departure of seven forwards, the organization made a conscious decision to reshape the franchise around character players who could physically control a game.
With eight forwards under the age of 25, it was crucial that the team established a veteran presence to lead the young guns into the future.
Enter Maxime Talbot.
Talbot, a 27-year-old veteran, spent six years with the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to signing a five-year, $8.75 million contract with the Flyers this offseason.
While taking a member away from the rival Penguins may have been an added bonus, Talbot brings more to the table than merely spite.
Most notably, a Stanley Cup ring.
With the exception of Chris Pronger, Jaromir Jagr and Ilya Bryzgalov, no other member of the Flyers has had the honor of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. For a team with expectations as high as the Flyers, it is important that they have voices in the locker room who have accomplished the ultimate goal before.
In addition, the injury bug has bitten the Flyers.
With early season injuries to Pronger and Daniel Briere, the Flyers have played a few games this year without two of their captains. Compound that with injuries to key role players like Ian Lapierre and Blair Betts, the Flyers have had the grueling task of filling leadership as well as character roles.
This is where Talbot has shined.
Coach Peter Laviolette even turned to Talbot to act as an alternate captain while Briere was sidelined with an injury.
“He’s been terrific in the locker room,” Laviolette said. “He’s a character kid.”
He has also proven to be a valuable commodity on the penalty kill.
During the Flyers overhaul this offseason, the team decided to part ways with Mike Richards and Darrel Powe, two of the team’s strongest penalty killers. With the injury to Betts, the team found themselves with only a quarter of their unit from the previous season still remaining.
Talbot has seamlessly stepped into the role.
He is currently averaging 4:28 on the penalty kill this season, the most of any other forward on the roster. Paired with Flyers first round selection Sean Couturier, the two players have proven to be the team’s most competent pair.
But Talbot’s abilities don’t limit him to the penalty kill, a fact that his coach is quick to point out.
“We use him in a lot of different situations and a lot of different positions for our team,” Laviolette said. “You’ve seen an example of it in the last five games. He can go in any line.”
Over Talbot’s last five games he has clearly emerged as an important component to the team.
During that span he has scored three goals, including one on a penalty-kill and another on a penalty shot, both of which originated off strong plays by Talbot in the defensive zone.
In only 13 games with the Flyers, he has already scored four goals, half of his total from all of last season.
It’s clear to see that Laviolette understands the importance of Talbot.
“It’s nice to see him get rewarded for his work because he’s a hard working guy,” the coach said. “He’s a guy that we count on right now.”