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.
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.
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?
To illustrate this point, Laviolette was probably strapped to a chair with his eyes held open by wires while old clips of Mr. Rogers were interspersed with children laughing, adorable baby animals, and skillsy hockey plays.
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.
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.