Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Some things I understand to be true about the Philadelphia Flyers:
1. They were playing pretty poorly prior to John Stevens getting the axe on Friday afternoon.
2. This is partly because Stevens had "lost the room."
3. Because of those first two things, a change had to be made.
4. Peter Laviolette was the best coach available, with a proven track record of making an underachieving team start winning.
Those are the reasons Laviolette got hired. But I wonder how long this is going to last.
I don't say that because they got their brains beat in by the Capitals on Saturday night (and did they ever!). I say that because there is, or at least was, a key philosophical difference between the way Laviolette likes his teams to play, and the way the Flyers are built to play.
(Coming Up: How, exactly, did Tomas Plekanec(notes) escape suspension for this blatant butt-end cheapshot on David Krejci(notes)?; Brendan Shanahan's(notes) greatest hockey story ever told; Marian Hossa(notes) is booed; Vokoun gets goofed on; Tkachuk joins a men's league game; and an Ottawa goalie adds his contribution to the worst goals allowed highlight reel.)
Here are is a key quote from Laviolette in the past (from The Hockey News in 2007) dug up by a user on phillysportsforums.com, whose post I cannot link to because he calls the Flyers brass who made the decision to hire the new coach "[expletive] losers." Emphasis here will be mine.
"I have a very strict no-fighting policy for our team," Laviolette says. "Last year in the playoffs (defenseman) Mike Commodore(notes) got into a fight and I said, 'OK, that's it. No more fighting.' I simply cannot afford to lose a player like Mike Commodore to an injury he may sustain in a fight.
"Take a guy like Erik Cole(notes). If we allowed him to fight, I know he would do it. Now if he gets hurt in a fight, our team has lost a very valuable asset. How do I justify that? I can't. It just doesn't make sense to me to allow our guys to fight."
Boy, doesn't that attitude just scream Broad Street Bullies?
I'm sure Paul Holmgren brought up Laviolette's frankly odd stance on fisticuffs in the interview process and made it clear that obviously a team with Dan Carcillo, Ian Laperriere(notes), Riley Cote(notes) and Arron Asham(notes) would be fighting at every available opportunity.
To test the theory, of course, Laviolette was thrown right into the fire in his first game when Carcillo did the rather Carcillo-y thing of picking up 29 penalty minutes (and then getting suspended four games) because of his cold-cocking of Matt Bradley(notes), and he had to back his guy. Like some sort of test.
But the ludovico treatment must've worked, because after the game, Laviolette was all aboard, spinning it thusly, "...The make up of Carolina is completely different from the makeup of Philadelphia. I'm OK with Danny's fight."
You sure are, Lavvy, me droog. Who doesn't love a bit of the old ultraviolence? Can't have 'em thinking you're a devotchka.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Here is a stat I was very surprised to find -- the Ducks are tied for most third-period goals conceded in the League this season. With 42 (the article is from before they allowed one to Ottawa yesterday)! That's almost 1.5 per third period. For reference, they've allowed 48 in the first two periods combined. Huge reason they're a lottery team right now, probably the reason.
Atlanta Thrashers: Count John Anderson as a big fan of Evander Kane(notes). "He doesn't seem like a rookie to me. He makes a few young mistakes, but for the most part he's gung-ho all the time. He's chasing pucks, he's strong on the wall and he has eight goals already -- not playing the power play. I'm going to have to find him some more ice time." All that praise for a kid who doesn't have a point in his last four games, which tells you how much he's getting after it without the puck.
Boston Bruins: I don't know what delighted Bruins fans more about their team's 7-2 stomping of Toronto -- That Marc Savard(notes) continues his stellar post-contract play (four goals in three games) with a hat trick, or that Tuukka Rask(notes) finished the night with more points than Phil Kessel(notes). Oh and speaking of Savard's new deal, it's under league investigation for being "fishy."
Buffalo Sabres: At the beginning of November, the Sabres were 20th in the league on the PK. Now they're third (that article says they're second but didn't include the weekend's games). Killing 41 of 44 in the past month will do that. I bet having Ryan Miller(notes) and his sub-2.00 GAA helps a lot too.
Calgary Flames: If you missed the Flames/Sharks tilt on Saturday, you missed maybe the most entertaining game this season. Up-and-down action; shots were 36 apiece. Physical, too; hits were 35-all. This is a game that won't be leaving my DVR for a good long while.
Carolina Hurricanes: Erik Cole's sixth career hat trick sure wasn't pretty...
That doesn't mean it wasn't effective.
Colorado Avalanche: Craig Anderson(notes) hasn't played since Wednesday due to his sore neck from Keith Ballard's(notes) Goalie Injury 2009 tour. Doesn't much matter though, because Petr Budaj has stopped 58 of the 62 shots he's faced in the two games since. Petr Budaj!
Columbus Blue Jackets: Yeah, Columbus is 1-5-3 in its last nine, but Ken Hitchcock is in no danger of getting fired. Says Scott Howson, "Hitch is safe, to suggest otherwise is just ludicrous. It has not even entered anybody's mind. It's not something we'd even consider." They know they have a lot to work out and a coaching change at this point helps no one.
Dallas Stars: Mike Heika wonders just how much the Stars are going to have to give James Neal(notes) when his contract comes up at the end of the season. Considering he's on pace to score 43 goals, I'd say it's time to start shoveling the money into the back of the dump truck in preparation for backing it up to his front door.
Detroit Red Wings: Bad news for the Central Division, the Western Conference and the National Hockey League -- The Red Wings are starting to get pretty good again. Sure, they lost to Edmonton on Thursday, but with Saturday night's comeback
win shootout loss against New Jersey, one of the best teams in the East, and then the late win over the Rangers yesterday they have 7 points in their last 5 games. (Edit: Fixed that Jersey game.)
Minnesota Wild: Did you have any idea that the Wild have won five straight? More than that, they've gotten points in seven in a row! Problem, though, is that the article mentions Andrew Brunette's(notes) "team-leading 10th goal." Cause for concern there, I'd think.
I'm not really sure how that goes unpunished in this new climate of "suspend everyone for everything unless they score a point a game." Is it because Krejci got right back up and then got in a shoving match over it? True story: This is actually worse for the league to ignore than the Carcillo thing because a guy like Plekanec won't fight anyone to answer for crap like this. Guys like that are going to keep playing this way until the league steps in and starts suspending them. Obviously. Why wouldn't they?
New Jersey Devils: Here is probably the greatest hockey story of all time. Rick Vaive once turned down a 14-year-old Brendan Shanahan for an autograph. So when Shanny was 18 and playing for the Devils, he beat the hell out of Vaive right when the puck dropped on their first shift against each other.
New York Islanders: Going back to that great Nikita Filatov(notes) interview by Dmitry on Friday, in which Filatov said most NHL teams won't release their Russian players to World Juniors, the Islanders are now refusing to allow the release of not only their NHL players, but also one of their AHL players (19-year-old defenseman Anton Klementyev(notes)) and a player in the KHL whose rights they hold (forward Kiril Petrov).
New York Rangers: Ryan Callahan's(notes) penalty shot last night made me realize something else that illustrates how stupid the shootout is. Remember when a penalty shot was the hugest deal ever? Remember when you'd be all excited to see something like that? Remember when Jimmy Howard's(notes) awesome save would have made every highlight reel for a year? I watched that play out with no emotion whatsoever because now it's all commonplace and run-of-the-mill. I don't have a link or anything, it's just sad.
Ottawa Senators: Hahahaha. Brian Elliot. Oh man.
Welcome to a decade's worth of blooper reels.
Phoenix Coyotes: Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) on taking hockey too seriously: "You lose the game, so what? Nobody dies." Really, this interview alongside his family by Sarah McLellan is quite interesting and you should read it.
Not that I think that's fair, but that's why, is all.
St. Louis Blues: Great, hilarious blog post by Jeremy Rutherford Saturday featuring Keith Tkachuk(notes) jumping into a men's league pickup game and Cam Janssen(notes), Esq. Seems like the Blues are in a hell of a good mood overall.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Congratulations are in order for Viktor Hedman, who scored his first NHL goal on Saturday.
Pretty feed from Vinny Lecavalier too.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Because the events of Saturday night in Boston are better left forgotten, he's a very nice goal from Nazem Kadri(notes) instead. The future is bright, Leafs fans, especially when you think of getting Taylor Ha... ohhhhhh sorry.
Vancouver Canucks: You know Carolina is not a well-regarded franchise around the League when losing to them, even with Andrew Raycroft(notes) in net, is considered hitting "rock bottom." And just for fun, count the number of allusions to disappointment and frustration are in that article.
Washington Capitals: Interesting that the Caps and Alex Semin have not had any contract discussions of any kind. Gotta think the kid is seeing ruble signs considering the run of new contracts in the league lately.
Play of the Weekend
Oftentimes, I am accused of being a Flames homer and as such I try to go out of my way not to be one. On the other hand, how am I gonna ignore this save by Miikka Kiprusoff(notes), who made 127 saves exactly like this (conservative estimate) as the Flames handed the Sharks just their second home regulation loss this season?
That's just absurd.
Gold Star Award
Because he kinda got lost in the shuffle of two hat tricks and a ridiculous goaltending performance (see above), I gotta give this one to Nicklas Backstrom(notes). Five points is really impressive any time, but even more so with Alex Ovechkin(notes) in absentia.
Speaking of, the Caps outscored their opponents 14-4 in the two games for which Ovie was suspended. Float his name out there for some trade offers. See what you can get. Just sayin'.
Minus of the Weekend
It goes to the National Football League this week because they decided to order that some funny-sounding commercials featuring the Bears and Blackhawks trading tips shall never air, probably because the NFL's logos and things of this nature are used in the spots.
The horror of anyone promoting NFL without their getting a cut!
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
It is my personal belief that user "Keenan87" is actually Mike Keenan out for revenge against the league that scorned him.
1st Round Next Season
It's very rare you see an HFBoards proposal that helps neither team, but yikes. The last thing the Flames need is another contract over $5 million (let alone $3.5 million over that), and the last thing Carolina needs is a bunch of players that aren't especially good.
Family love Michael!
- Peter Laviolette