Dec 032010
Chris Pronger and Peter Laviolette

Chris Pronger and Peter Laviolette

December 3:

Philadelphia Flyers news and stories from around the web…

At 1-year mark, Flyers coach Laviolette reflects on wild ride

December 3 Philadelphia Daily News:

“Exactly 1 year ago today, after a lifeless loss to Vancouver, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren went to sleep knowing he needed to make a change.

Holmgren woke up the next morning wanting a “different voice” for the Flyers.

On that night, Peter Laviolette was using that voice as an analyst for TSN in Toronto – and was spending his days doing “the big things” around the house, like laundry and shuttling his kids to hockey practice near the family’s home in Longboat Key, outside Bradenton, Fla.

Gone was John Stevens, a likable coach and father figure to many of the Flyers‘ young stars. Stevens since has landed on his feet as an assistant coach under another former Flyers coach, Terry Murray, in Los Angeles.

In the year that has passed, Laviolette has been the one constant through what seems like a roller-coaster ride – from 29th in the NHL, to a shootout victory on the last day of the regular season to make the playoffs, all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

“It feels like 10 years,” Laviolette joked.

Now, 1 year later, with the Flyers tied with three teams for third place overall in the NHL, Laviolette has his team in a position to take the next step.

“I think there is a belief in what we do,” Laviolette said yesterday after practice. “There is a belief in the way that we play, a belief in the people in the [locker] room. There is a certain goal of what we’re looking for. When we cheat any of that, we roll the dice.”

In reality, Holmgren’s coaching change was a roll of the dice. After a 1-5 run in late November, was that really what the Flyers needed? It has turned out to be one of the best moves of Holmgren’s tenure as the Flyers‘ general manager – and there have been a lot of good ones.

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Flyers not panicking over goal drought

December 3 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Despite scoring a total of three goals in their last three games – all losses – the Flyers aren’t overly concerned.

“We’re getting the opportunities; we’re getting the chances and getting the shots,” captain Mike Richards said after Thursday’s practice in Voorhees. “Hopefully, we’re going to have one of those games where it’s just a breakout game. Hopefully, it’s Saturday,” when the Flyers host New Jersey in a matinee.

Before their three-game drought, the Flyers were the NHL’s highest-scoring team and had averaged about five goals in their previous eight games. Entering Thursday, they had slipped to fourth in the league with an average of 3.31 goals per game.

Coach Peter Laviolette called the recent funk one of those inevitable “isolated instances” a team endures in an 82-game season.

“It’s a cycle. We have to keep working through it,” said center Danny Briere after the Flyers fired 41 shots at Boston goalie Tim Thomas on Wednesday but were blanked, 3-0. “Early in the season, there were games when everything was working for us. We can’t complain. We just have to keep our heads up and try to break that cycle somehow.”

While the Flyers have faced strong goaltending recently – Montreal’s Carey Prince also made 41 saves in a shutout win – their streaky power play has been out of sync in the last eight games.

The Flyers‘ power play, which drew boos from the Wells Fargo Center fans on Wednesday, is 2 for its last 38.

Laviolette has resisted changing the two power-play units, although he has considered giving Nik Zherdev and James van Riemsdyk more time.

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Giroux lives up to expectations

December 2 Camden Courier-Post:

“When Claude Giroux entered the NHL, many compared him to a young Simon Gagne. Flyers chairman Ed Snider went one step further, likening the crafty center to Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke.

Now in his second full season with the Flyers, Giroux’s numbers are looking very much like the ones posted by Clarke in his first three NHL seasons.

Giroux entered Wednesday night’s game, the 152nd of his career, needing three points to reach 100 in the NHL. His 37 goals, 60 assists and 97 points are hardly Hall of Fame worthy, but they certainly compare to the 42 goals, 67 assists and 109 points generated by Clarke in his first two NHL seasons.

“My belief is that he can be the best player on the ice every night,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “He proves on a nightly basis that he can bring a little bit of everything. He’s physical, too. He can hit, he can make plays, he can score big goals, he can play all situations.

“Like Mike (Richards), he can kill (penalties), he can kill on a 5-on-3 situation, and he can play forward on a 5-on-3 (power play). He can take a big faceoff, he can check the other team’s big players. He can even play the point on the power play.”

Unlike most players his age, Giroux, 22, carved his reputation in the playoffs and not in the regular season. In 19 career AHL playoff games he recorded 51 points. And in 29 career Stanley Cup playoff games he’s notched 26 points.

Giroux is trying to change that this season. He entered Wednesday night’s game second behind Mike Richards with 23 points in 25 games.”

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