Flyers hope Downie will boost offense
Only a week ago Max Talbot crashed head-first into the boards, courtesy of the Rangers’ Benoit Pouliot, and had to be helped off the ice, his face bloodied.
Incredibly, he returned to action a period later, drawing admiration for being the kind of quintessential gutty player that often makes a team tick.
Now, he’s on his way to the Avalanche. The Flyers traded him for 26-year-old Steve Downie, a more offensive-minded left winger. And yes, that makes Downie the latest “frequent Flyer,” having played 38 games here from 2007-08.
Desperate for scoring punch, GM Paul Holmgren is hoping Downie — a goal and six assists in 11 games for the Avalanche — will provide that. Talbot, despite being a terrific penalty-killer and solid-checking center, had just a goal and an assist after scoring 19 goals in 2012.
“I like the hunger and energy he brings,” said Holmgren. “He’s a guy who goes to the front of the net with a purpose and is strong with the puck and can make plays. Steve’s a good player, a better player than maybe people give him credit for. We didn’t want to trade him five years ago, but we needed a defenseman at the time.”
The other thing the deal might do is jolt some of his struggling young players, making them realize they could be next. While captain Claude Giroux still hasn’t scored a goal, he’s not going anywhere. The same might not hold for Sean Couturier (no goals, two assists), Brayden Schenn (two goals, four assists), Jake Voracek (one goal, three assists).
“We continue to look around, just like every team,” said Holmgren. “We want to get this turned around here. If something makes us better, we’ll look at it.”
The coming month — at least in theory — should give the Flyers (3-8) a chance to make up some ground, since they play only three teams currently sporting winning records. Then again, only six of 16 teams in the East have winning records, opposed to 10 of 14 in the West, which has dominated head-to-head play, 54-23-8, through Wednesday.