Tag:Peter Laviolette
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:01 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 10:57 am
 

Morning Skate: Stars and Wild in West's big one

By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

8:30 ET, Minnesota at Dallas: With how quiet they have been since their early-season run, it's a little surprising to wake up on Friday and see that the Dallas Stars are in the eighth position in the Western Conference.

With how bad they've been since their early-season run, it's a little surprising the Minnesota Wild are still within earshot of the playoffs in the Western Conference.

Today's movin' and shakin' game in the massive battle for the West's last playoff spot is the matchup of the two teams that have called Minnesota home. It's like their step-brothers or something and the "first" brother doesn't take kindly to the "new" brother moving in. It's been 15 straight trips to Dallas without a victory for Minnesota. Yikes.

This would be as good a time as any to snap that. The Wild head into Friday three points behind the logjam for eighth place. Fall five back and they really have a tough task at hand.

But the Wild have picked it up here. Over the weekend it looked like they were about to be buried for good until they turned in one of their best performances in months and beat the Bruins. Then on Thursday night they got a rare shootout win over the Panthers in Florida. They're getting back to that Mike Yeo hockey that was so successful.

The Stars, meanwhile, aren't setting the world on fire but nobody at the bottom of the West is, so they're tied for that No. 8 spot after a strong win in Chicago on Thursday. Yet they are still reportedly considering being a seller at Monday's deadline.

For teams teetering, every game before the deadline is that much more important, especially when the playoff race is in full swing.

7 ET, Montreal at Washington: No two teams have been a bigger drama show this season than the Capitals and Canadiens. So maybe it's fitting they play each other just before the trade deadline, the season's biggest big top.

These are two teams either on the brink (Washington) or already over it (Montreal). The Habs are now in the bottom three. Starting Friday eight points out of a playoff spot, they are close to done for. At this point it's more like playing out the string ... and playing spoiler.

Really, most everybody's eyes will be on the Capitals. They have been significantly better on home ice this season so perhaps that can be the cure for the three-game losing streak that ails them. They are still miraculously in the Southeast Division race, entering Friday four points behind the Jets and three behind the Panthers. But remember they have four games in hand on Winnipeg. Florida, meanwhile, will have two in hand on Washington after Friday.

Washington might have to do it without Alex Ovechkin again, too. He missed the team's game in Ottawa earlier this week with a "lower-body injury" and has been listed as day to day. For a team that's struggling to score like the Caps are, being down an Ovechkin really isn't helping matters. They'll have to rely on some quality goaltending, whoever might get that nod.

7 ET, Vancouver at New Jersey: After taking out the Red Wings in a shootout and ending their home winning streak at 23 games, the Canucks set their sights on taking over the West's top spot for the time being with a trip to New Jersey.

Only problem for them is the Devils are no slouch. They have been one if the absolute best teams in the league since the All-Star break and have climbed into the East's No. 4 position, that critical spot for home-ice advantage in the first round.

Hard for me to believe that with both of these teams' pedigrees that people seem to be sleeping on them. The Canucks are quietly going about their business -- perhaps a refreshing change in Vancouver -- and are again in the Presidents' Trophy race. The same goes for the Devils who could potentially move to within five points of the Rangers for the top position in the East if they get some help from the Islanders.

Others worth watching

7 ET, Rangers at Islanders: What better way for the Rangers to get out of a scoring funk than to visit their neighbors on Long Island?

7 ET, Colorado at Columbus: The Avs are another one in that West logjam while the Jackets move on to the post-Jeff Carter era (era?).

7:30 ET, Boston at Buffalo: This was supposed to be a big game. Now it's about Brad Marchand calling Buffalo the worst city in the league.

Your promised miscellany

  • Kyle Quincey, just moved to Detroit after a three-way deal, wasn't very complimentary of the Avalanche franchise and said other guys were jealous that he got to leave. (Denver Post)
  • Want to know why the Canadiens have been called a circus act this season? Here's a reason. P.K. Subban got into a skirmish with a teammate at practice. Again. (TSN)
  • Peter Laviolette was just a bit unhappy with his Flyers' performance in Edmonton on Thursday night and he let the Philly media know. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Jeff Carter might not have welcomed his move to Columbus with open arms, but at least Jack Johnson is giving it a try. (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Flames GM Jay Feaster wasn't pleased with his team's effort in the last couple of games and threatened his team by telling Sportsnet it would be busy on Monday if they didn't pick it up. (Sportsnet)

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:49 pm
 

Classic ends in penalty shot; Torts rips refs

By Brian Stubits

PHILADELPHIA -- For the first 35 or so minutes, the fifth edition of the Winter Classic was on its way to being the most forgettable. By the end, it was one of the most memorable. And it was a Henrik Lundqvist save away from being the most controversial.

With 19.6 seconds left and a mad scramble in front of the Rangers net, the play was blown dead. What came next was a penalty shot from Danny Briere, the Flyers trailing 3-2, the result of Ryan McDonagh covering the puck in the crease according to the officials.

It was the most dramatic moment in a Winter Classic to date.

"It was just a big scramble in the end they started to get pucks in front," Lundqvist said. "I didn't really see the puck I just stretched out my right leg and tried to stay on the post there and then I hear the whistle and then I hear the ref 'penalty shot.' I couldn't believe it."

Not surprisingly, neither could Rangers coach John Tortorella. "The penalty shot, I still don't understand."

The fans came to their feet when Briere circled in his own of the ice, getting ready for the chance to tie the game. Briere got the call instead of Claude Giroux, tied for the NHL's league lead in points after his beautiful backhand goal earlier in the game.

"We had a choice between the guys that were on the ice," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It comes down to really between Danny and Claude, they're both regulars in the shootout. I think Danny, being a natural goal scorer, thrives in that area a little bit more. It was my decision."

So Briere came down deliberately, eventually firing the shot at Lundqvist's five hole. Denied.

More Winter Classic Coverage

"I just tried to be patient and do my thing," Lundqvist said. "He's a tricky guy. If I make the first move he's going to score. Obviously there's a lot of pressure on me there. I couldn't believe when he called it a penalty shot but it was exciting. The whole game was exciting. The end was pretty intense but it was great."

It was definitely intense. The Rangers had to find every bit of strength to hold off a massive Flyers push to close the game that was aided by some penalties, ones that Tortorella wondered about after the game. For as forthright as Lundqvist was admitting to his surprise, Tortorella was as subtle as an elephant walking across down the street.

"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game," Tortorella said afterward. "It started with the non-call on Gabby's [Marian Gaborik] walk, he gets pitch-forked in the stomach and then everything starts going against us.

"For two good referees, I thought the game was reffed horribly. I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they did want to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. They're good guys, I just thought tonight, in that third period, it was disgusting."

One of those calls that didn't go their way was against Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. He was advancing up the left wing with about a minute to go, hunting an empty-net goal to end the suspense. He was taken down by Kimmo Timonen. Instead of a goal for the Rangers, Callahan was called for holding the stick to match Timonen's interference.

"Apparently I was holding his stick," a bewildered Callahan said after the game. "The stick was up by my chin. It was a tough one."

As a result Callahan, one of the Rangers' best shot-blockers, was left to watch that dramatic sequence from the penalty box.

"I was in the box but from what I saw it looked like Richards was pushing the puck out of the crease," Callahan said. "Hankie then comes up with a huge save to win it for us."

It was a huge save that likely saved the Winter Classic conspiracy talk from being at a fever pitch. What Tortorella said was a bit tongue in cheek -- I think -- but there would have been a lot more of the same cries coming from outside.

It certainly made for one memorable finish, that much can't be disputed.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:21 pm
 

Bobrovsky, Flyers can't hold off Rangers



By: Adam Gretz

PHILADELPHIA -- You can't blame Flyers coach Peter Laviolette for starting Sergei Bobrovsky in net for the 2012 Winter Classic.

The team's regular starter -- and highest paid player -- Ilya Bryzgalov is currently fighting through a brutal slump and sits near the bottom of the NHL in most goaltending categories, while Bobrovsky has played extremely well in recent games, including the Flyers' past two wins on the road in Dallas and Pittsburgh. Laviolette was basically playing the hot hand, and at the moment, his best goalie.

Still, the decision was one of the biggest talking points heading into Monday afternoon's game, and for the first two periods it was looking as if his decision was a wise one. Not only because Bobrovsky was once again playing well, but also because it didn't really matter which goalie the Flyers had in net as the Rangers struggled to generate any sustained offensive zone pressure or scoring chances.

Through 40 minutes of play many of the Rangers' shots were simply weak wrist shots from out near the blue line that were easily turned aside or gloved out of the air. Even the Rangers' first goal, the first one of the day that went to forward Mike Rupp, wasn't entirely Bobrovsky's fault as the puck was deflected between the circles off the stick of Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros.

And then early in the third period everything started to shift in the Rangers' direction, and it all began with Rupp's second goal, a bad angle shot that somehow found a way to sneak in behind Bobrovsky. It was a bad goal, and in the end, it proved to be a costly one.

"It was tough," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "I thought he played a strong game, and certainly he'd probably like to have another crack at that one. He seems to be confident in there. I think it did set us back for a little bit there, and the third one to go ahead on the backdoor rebound. It was tough for our team for a five-minute stretch there, and then we seemed to get back going there at the end of the game but it was hard to get through, with the ice the way it was and they were just dumping it behind us and playing defense in front of us, and it was tough to get back through the neutral zone and get back to generating the offense we did in the first two periods."
More Winter Classic Coverage


Along with jumping out to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, thanks to goals from Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux, a breakthrough on the scoreboard that seemed to validate their early dominatino of the puck possession game, the Flyers held a commanding 26-16 edge in the shots department heading into the third period. But that advantage was quickly erased over the final 20 minutes as the Rangers started to pour it on offensively while also preventing the Flyers from entering their zone and creating the type of chances they were getting with regularity over the first two periods.

"It seemed after they got up a goal, maybe five, six, seven minutes into the third period they got pucks redirected down into our end and we found ourselves breaking out a lot and I thought maybe we got a little bit spread out and couldn't generate anything. It didn't seem like we could get the puck in, I don't know about the forecheck but it seemed like we had trouble getting through the neutral zone based on the way they were putting the puck behind us."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 3:05 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Winter Classic preview: What to look for

By Brian Stubits

It's hard to remember the Winter Classic is just another game on the schedule. In reality it is just that. The winner of this game gets nothing more than two points in the standings.

But in practical purposes, the Winter Classic is anything but normal. It is annually the most-watched game of the season and it's not even close. It's commonplace for players and even coaches on occasion to do some chirping before games. But general managers throwing down the gauntlet like the Rangers' Glen Sather did a couple months ago? Yea, that's no ordinary game.

Plus, you know, they play it outside and all.

Without further ado, let's look ahead to the NHL's annual "celebration of hockey" on Tuesday in Philadelphia between the Flyers and the Rangers.

The weather

It goes without saying this is the only game of the season when this matters now that the NHL has stopped the Heritage Classic in Canada.

The initial game-day in the extended forecast called for rain and warm temperatures. That has been altered, for the good. Now the game-time temp is supposed to be 41 degrees and the only element to deal with will be the wind, where it is expected to blow in excess of 20 MPH.

So the ice itself should be alright for the game. As for the wind? It might have an impact, but we're not talking football here where the ball will be affected by strong gusts on field-goal attempts or deep passes. It sure beats precipitation fogging up visors.

Home-field advantage

Not in this game. There is virtually zero home-ice advantage of which to speak in the Winter Classic. Both teams are equally inexperienced with the sheet of ice in Philadelphia. Despite two times the amount of fans in the building, the noise level doesn't factor in. As a matter of fact, it's diminished with fans so far from the ice and no roof.

"I think you go back to our building over there when it matters and when it counts to have our fans behind us, I think it's really important," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said on Sunday. "We are looking forward to getting here and on this ice out here in front of that many people and having a great game."

But the points stands, don't expect the Flyers to have a big advantage just because they're the home team and the Citizen's Bank Park seats will be full of folks garbed in black and orange. Of the five Winter Classic games played to date, only one of them has seen the home team come away victorious and it took the Bruins an overtime period to beat the Flyers in 2010.

One advantage that I suppose you can credit to the Flyers is the fact that they have multiple players who have experienced Winter Classics before thanks to that game at Fenway Park two years ago. I put little stock into that, however. Once the game begins, experience means squat. Rangers coach John Tortorella agrees that won't mean much.

"We have kept our schedule, our whole way we have gone about our business has stayed the same and it will say the same tomorrow," Tortorella said. "We go day-to-day as far as how we prepare and that's what we have  done  right  on through this, we'll be doing the same thing as we get ready to play tomorrow."

Goals not galore

More on Winter Classic

Just continuing to look at the trends of past games, don't expect to see a lot of scoring. Only the game at Wrigley Field between the Red Wings and Blackhawks showed off much in the way of offense as the teams combined for 10 goals. The other three games combined have only seen nine goals (the Penguins won in a shootout).

That could just be as simple as a coincidence, there certainly is not a big sample size we're talking about here. Or it might be a real trend. I'd like to think that some of the uncontrolled elements play a role the lack of scoring in games, particularly factors such as glare, discomfort and surroundings.

I'll take my chances and say don't expect a lot of scoring on Monday. That's a bit easier to say knowing Henrik Lundqvist will be manning one crease.

Fighting chance

Half of the Winter Classics thus far have seen a fight. Each of the last two renditions featured impromptu boxing matches. So it's not like the players are going to shy away just because of the spotlight.

In the case of these two foes, there is a lot of dislike to put it mildly. Only the Blackhawks-Wings tilt compares favorably to this year's matchup in terms of a true rivalry. So it's likely some bad blood will spill over.

That seems especially plausible when you realize that last year's fight between the Penguins and Capitals featured Mike Rupp facing John Erskine. You'll recall that Rupp signed with the Rangers in the offseason so he'll be on the ice on Monday.

Players to watch

First for the Rangers, keep tabs on Brandon Dubinsky. The young Rangers forward was off to a very tough start this season, it had to be frustrating. It wasn't until Dec. 22 that he scored his second goal of the season. For a guy that had 24 goals last season, that's quite a drop.

However he is starting to return to the mean. What, you thought that only worked in the regression sense? Not exactly. Dubinsky enters the Winter Classic having scored a goal in each of his last two games and three of the past five.

For the Flyers, I'd love to say Ilya Bryzgalov but he's just going to be sitting on the bench, enjoying his tea in a thermos. Now if NBC can just get him mic'd up for the game, they'd have the best on-ice commentator in the sport for the broadcast, with all due respect to Darren Pang.

However it does mean that the actual Flyers starter, Sergei Bobrovsky, will be worth keeping an eye on. He's been playing very well lately for the Flyers and with Bryzgalov's struggles, this could be an opportunity for Bobrovsky to stake a big claim that he should continue to get a lot more playing time. Remember, it was just a season ago that he was their starter and came to the NHL with a lot of promise.

Prediction

I'm a sucker for trends, so I'm going to stick with them in this game. I've got the visiting Rangers winning a low-scoring affair. Plus, in a situation like that I'll take Lundqvist over Bobrovsky. I'll put my name down for a 3-1 prediction in favor of New York.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:25 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 5:56 pm
 

Bryzgalov says Bobrovsky starting Winter Classic

By Brian Stubits

Ilya Bryzgalov had possibly the greatest goalie masks I've ever seen made especially for the Winter Classic. He has been largely seen as the MVP of HBO's 24/7 series. But he's not going to start when the big game begins on Monday in Philly.

While Flyers coach Peter Laviolette hasn't announced who his starter will be and Sergei Bobrovsky wouldn't say, Bryzgalov had no problems about releasing the team's plans.

"I have great news and even better news. OK, great news is I’m not playing tomorrow night," Bryzgalov told the gathered media. "Better news is we have a chance to win the game tomorrow night."

That's why so many people enjoy Bryzgalov. The self-depricating humor and refreshing soundbites. So I think that news will make a lot of people disappointed, Bryzgalov included.

"Yes, I did ... of course, I said yes. I'm a human. I'm not made from the steel. But it is what it is, I had a good practice today again like yesterday and two days ago. We just keep moving forward and have lots of games in front of us, lots of hockey. I heard it was still main goal in Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup and prepare for this."

So that means the start will go to Bobrovsky, who started Philly's last game, Thursday's win over the Penguins.

The question everybody wants to know from The Universe -- Bryzgalov's new nickname -- what will his mindset be tomorrow? You know you'll never get a classic, cliched quoted with Bryz -- thankfully.

"Make sure I not forget early in the morning my thermos, put some iced tea and enjoy the bench," Bryzgalov quipped.

Later on Sunday Bryzgalov sent a tweet with a photo simply labeled "My thermos."

It's a touch disappointing for Bryz to not be playing from a fan perspective but it's pretty easy to see why Laviolette would start Bob. In three of his last four starts, Bryzgalov has given up at least four goals including five in his most recent start, Tuesday in Tampa Bay. On the season his goals against average is 3.01 and he has a save percentage of .890. Flat out, he just hasn't been getting it done recently. So in that regard, it's no surprise.

It's a reminder that no matter how big the hype is around the Winter Classic, it's just another game in the 82-game regular season.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:04 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:09 am
 

24/7: Flyers-Rangers Episode 3

By: Adam Gretz

When Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott had their little "shoving" match after the first period of a recent game the first thing that popped into my mind was, "I can't wait to hear what was actually said on the next episode of 24/7."

As it turns out, and it's probably not much of a surprise, the actual encounter was pretty lame and consisted of nothing other than Ott telling Laviolette to wait for the remainder of the Stars bench to head into the locker room, and Laviolette telling Ott to "go [expletive] yourself" two times. WIth a couple of shoves thrown in for good measure. In other words, it was just another day at the office for Steve Ott as you can be darn sure that's not the first time those words were spoken to him by an opposing player or coach during a game.  

It's no wonder the NHL didn't fine either participant: nothing happened.

Episode 3 of HBO's 24/7 probably wasn't one of the best ones in the series over the past two seasons. We had an opportunity to see a lot of the players hanging out with their families over the Holiday break, including Rangers forward Brian Boyle as he went home to spend time with his 12(!) brothers and sisters. There was an ugly sweater party, probably not unlike the ones you've had at work, and we also watched as Marian Gaborik awkwardly carried a massive Christmas tree over his shoulders through the streets of New York in an effort to get it back to his pad.

Three moments that stood out

1) Episode 3 focussed the Flyers-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden last week, which the Rangers won, and we were able to get a good listen to all of the trash talk that takes places on the ice and on the bench during a heated rivalry game. The best line of the night came from Rangers forward Brad Richards in response to Flyers call-up Tom Sestito, whom had been chirping the Rangers bench and talking about how he was going to knock all of them out. Said Richards, "This is fantasy camp for you," an obvious jab at Sestito's status as a call-up from the American Hockey League.

2) That game also gave us an opportunity to get a quick glimpse at the War Room in Toronto that keeps an eye on every single game taking place in the NHL and handles all of the questionable goal reviews that come up in a given night. During the second period of the Rangers-Flyers game Ruslan Fedotenko's goal had to be reviewed to make sure the puck actually went in the net (it did) and we managed to get a look at what can only be described as a dream job for a hockey enthusiast: a wall of massive HD flat screen TV's with nothing but hockey games taking place ... and one TV that, for reasons unknown, happened to have a close up angle of a dog.

3) The unquestioned star of the first two episodes, we had to wait nearly 49 minutes before we had our first real look at Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and like many of the players, was seen celebrating the holiday with his wife, two children and his now-famous (after the previous episode in the series) Husky that he referred to as "a hot girl, man."

I'll say this, he wasn't lying about the dog: it is a sharp looking animal.

More 2012 Winter Classic News Here
24/7 Flyers-Rangers Episode 1
24/7 Flyers-Rangers Episode 2

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Report: Laviolette, Ott won't be fined for shove

By Brian Stubits

Can't we all just get along? If I were to guess, I'd say that's the question the NHL asked Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Dallas Stars agitator Steve Ott.

In case you need a refresher, here's the story and video of the incident last week where Laviolette and Ott were seen exchanging a few words before Laviolette pushed Ott aside and headed through the tunnel.

Well, the verdict appears to be in and there won't be any punishment coming for either. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com reported on Tuesday that a different path was chosen by the NHL offices: Kiss and make up (not literally, of course).

The league investigated the incident and spoke to both parties involved but in the end asked that Ott and Laviolette speak to each other over the phone to hash it out, a source told ESPN.com. The league was satisfied Ott and Laviolette settled things and decided no fines were warranted.

Wonder how awkward that phone conversation was. I imagine Laviolette doing his best Bill Lumbergh impression: "Um, yeah, about that Steve. I'd like to apologize, OK?"

I got to say, I am a bit surprised that Laviolette at least won't be fined for the incident. I thought the league might use this as an example to show coaches that they are held to a higher standard.

But what I thought would happen vs. what I thought should happen are different and I have no problems with the guys essentially getting a warning. Chalk it up to heat of the moment ... and sharing a tunnel to the locker rooms. Just don't let something similar happen again and it's a no harm, no foul situation.

More NHL Discipline News Here

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:30 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:03 am
 

The Peter Laviolette-Steve Ott 'shove'

By: Adam Gretz

Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott is known around the NHL as a pest and an agitator.  He's the type of player that you want on your team as a player or a fan, and the type you loathe when he's on an opposing team.

Basically, it's his job to get under the skin of opposing players on the ice, and if it should happen to come up, I guess coaches as well.

At the conclusion of the first period of Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia, which the Flyers won by a 4-1 margin, Ott had a bit of an exchange with Flyers coach Peter Laviolette as the two teams headed to their locker rooms with the Flyers holding a 2-1 lead.



To call that a shove might be overstating it just a bit. It was more of a "get out of my way" type of thing (and the cynic in me can't help but wonder if there was some playing up to the HBO camera's that are following the Flyers for 24/7). Because the two benches share the same tunnel to their respective locker rooms, there's a chance something like this can happen in the heat of the moment.

Words were exchanged, as were "shoves" and it will be interesting to catch this moment on HBO next Wednesday to see what, exactly, was said at that moment.

Here's what Ott had to say after the game about the Flyers' coach: "He obviously thought he has a higher power than everyone else and a little bit more arrogance."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com