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Flyers' Talbot adds offense after moving East

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Flyers' Talbot adds offense after moving East
Max Talbot thought he might have to face his old team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the playoffs when he moved across the state to Philadelphia, and he'll do so after setting career highs in goals and points.

VOORHEES, N.J. -- When he left the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Philadelphia Flyers in July, Maxime Talbot was already preparing for something like this to happen.

Talbot, who spent his first six NHL seasons in Pittsburgh and won a Stanley Cup there in 2009, will face his old team in arguably the most anticipated first-round series of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"As soon as I signed here I had a feeling it would happen," Talbot said following the team's practice Tuesday. "It's something the hockey gods do."

It's been a season to remember in many ways for Talbot. He signed a five-year deal with the Flyers in July, and in his first game back in Pittsburgh, on Dec. 29, he scored an empty-net goal in the Flyers' 4-2 win.

Maxime Talbot
Maxime Talbot
Center - PHI
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 34
SOG: 115 | +/-: 5
He also finished the regular season with 19 goals, a career-best and nearly as many as he scored the three previous seasons. He also set new personal bests this season in assists (15) and points (34) and scored his first NHL power-play goal.

From seeing Talbot so often in the Penguins-Flyers rivalry, the Philadelphia front office thought they knew what kind of player they were getting in Talbot -- a rough, physical player who could check the opposing team's top players, block shots and agitate. That much offense, though, was a major surprise.

"He's here and not only contributing in the Max Talbot way, but he's contributing in the offensive column," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "That's a welcome thing. We had guys departing that had some numbers so we needed to pick up that offense somewhere and he's been a part of that."

On the surface, Talbot's role doesn't appear to be much different than it was in Pittsburgh. His averaged a career-best 15:59 per game, but that's less than a minute per game more than he played last season. He's played on the third or fourth line for most of the season, and his only significant special-teams time has been on the penalty kill.

"Is it a different role? Yes and no," Talbot said. "My priority is always to play well defensively."

So where did this offensive explosion come from for a player who had just eight goals in 82 games last season, and never had more than the 13 he scored in 2006-07?

"I was in a good position this year," Talbot said. "I felt in place here, playing with good linemates, on a good team, good system. I don't know. It worked well for me. I was on the ice quite a bit and I felt right in my role."

It's a role that's been a bit of surprise to his new teammates, who previously only knew him from the sandpaper role he had with the Penguins.

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"You remember him as an agitator, a guy out there taking faceoffs in the last minute of a game, shutting down a one-goal lead," Scott Hartnell said. "Not only does he do that this year, he might be playing with more skilled players that are getting him the puck.

"I think looking back it's a bit of a stretch at the beginning of the year to say Max would score 20," Danny Briere told NHL.com. "Max is one of those guys, you know what you're getting -- you're getting a guy who's going to leave it all out on the ice ever single shift every single night.

"It's fun to see. I love the way he plays. For him it's more than the goals, it's everything around it, everything else that he brings -- blocking shots, the intensity, killing penalties, hitting, fighting when it's time. It's the passion."

He'll have to keep that passion level high when he faces the Pens. He faced his old teammates five times this season, including three games at Consol Energy Center. In that first game back he received a standing ovation from the fans and the Penguins played a tribute video for him. But when he had a goal and an assist in the Flyers' 6-4 win there April 1, the reception wasn't nearly as friendly. That's more of what he expects over the next seven games.

"It's something you've got to go through," he said. "It's something that when you change teams ... Pittsburgh fans are obviously passionate fans, like the Flyers' fans.

"The first game back there was special, they gave me a standing ovation. I scored a goal last game we played there and I heard a couple of boos. It's OK. I'm part of the enemy now. I'm going to do everything I can to win."

That includes bringing the offense and the abrasiveness that define his career.

"He was a bugger to play against," Hartnell said. "I'm glad to have him on our team."

While it's certainly going to be an emotional time for Talbot, he said he's looking forward to the challenge.

"It's pretty exciting for me," he said. "It's obviously a big challenge. It's going to be an exciting series. ... I'm looking forward to seven games of good hockey."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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