The Flyers Are Off to a Great Start and for that Peter Laviolette Gets to Coach in the All-Star Game
After the Flyers’ historic playoff run last year, some tend to forget the run-up to the postseason was not an easy task. In fact, the regular season as a whole was not very good, and when Peter Laviolette took over the team after John Stevens was fired in December of ‘09, things were a bit chaotic and it took a shootout to win on the last day of the season just to advance to the playoffs. Now Philadelphia is in a much better position today to host a first round series for the first time since ‘04.
Throughout the first half of the season, Coach Laviolette rode the hot hands of Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher along with a balanced scoring attack into coaching one of the teams at this weekend’s NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh. He is being rewarded for his team sitting atop the Eastern Conference with 71 points, which means Coach Lavy will be joined by Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who ended the first half of the season atop the Western Conference, as co-coaches of one of the All-Star teams at this weekend’s festivities. The All-Star game should be fun to watch this year with two captains, Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom, themselves choosing the teams in a fantasy draft event tomorrow night, somewhat like a pick-up basketball game. That should add more excitement to the game instead of the usual East vs. West game.
Peter Laviolette joined WIP in Philly to talk about how much of their success this season was due to the success of last year in the playoffs, if he is looking to shift to using only one goalie as they move closer to the playoffs, and how it is going to be to go back to Carolina this weekend and coach the All-Star team and whether he has any type of strategy involved.
How much of their success this season was due to the success of last year in the playoffs:
“There is no question. I think what we went through last year, from December up until that last game it was a lot of tough sledding and we came from 29th place, I think just before Christmas we were in 29th, and that is a tough number to come back from and to make it into the playoffs and there were a lot of positive things that happened through the course of that, but the smallest things got magnified because of the position and the standings we were at and the expectation that we need to make that playoffs. As you push up and you make your way all the way to tenth, when you lose back-to-back games to an Atlanta, who had a good hockey team and is capable of beating anybody, but there is an expectation that we needed to win that game. It kind of gets magnified a little bit so there was a lot of good things done during that stretch. We were playing good at times. We faced some injuries with goaltenders and players down the stretch. When we got into the playoffs, and this is just my take on it, we really got to leave all of that baggage, the 29th and the journey and what we were, we were tougher and we were better prepared and we understood what we needed to do on the ice as a group and that players performed unbelievably…”
If he is looking to shift to using only one goalie as they move closer to the playoffs:
“I think sometimes there are clear-cut answers to that question, but this is just my own philosophy, I am not a big believer in numbers. People want a first line and they want a first power play unit, they want a number one goaltender, they want a number one quarterback, they want to know, who is the number one guy, and I am just not a big believer in that. I believe in a team concept and if this power play unit seems to be clicking and going that night then that is the unit that goes out first or maybe just gets a little bit more time. If there is a goaltender playing well then they deserve to go out and go back in the net and fight for it again. If there is a player that is coming into the lineup and they played well they deserve to stay in and it is not about numbers it is more about the play and the performance on the ice… If the playoffs started tomorrow I would name a starting goaltender to start that game but I wouldn’t come out in the public and say that this is our number one guy.”
How it will be going back to Carolina this weekend to coach an All-Star team and whether there is any type of strategy involved:
“You know I have never been to an All-Star game. I would imagine that it is probably, from a coaching standpoint, you are more of a piece behind the bench that needs to be fitted in there and not a lot of strategy or coaching going on. My guess is that it is a fun event and my guys are going to go out there and you have got some of the best players on the ice there and they are going to showcase their talents and it should be a fun event. As far as going back to Raleigh, I think it will be a lot of fun. My wife and my kids, we were there for five years so we have a lot of friends and we met a lot of good people down in Raleigh and we are looking forward to going back there and seeing them and enjoying the weekend for what it is, which is a fun event put on by the National Hockey League. It should be a good weekend and a lot of fun…”