Peter Laviolette “It’s a new season. It’s like a new breath of fresh air that wisps through your room.”April 14, 2011 – 7:00 am by Steven Cuce
The Philadelphia Flyers were the epitome of the underdog in the postseason last year. Philadelphia made it into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, beating the New York Rangers in a winner-goes-to-the-playoffs final regular season game in a shootout, riding that momentum all the way into the Stanley Cup. Who could forget the Flyers coming back from a 3-0 deficit in game seven of the Eastern Conference semi-finals after being down 3-0 in the series against the Boston Bruins? It seemed like it was destiny for Peter Laviolette’s team.
The Flyers would eventually be taken down in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup. There would be no champagne popped in Philadelphia or championship plaques put on the locker-room walls. Only a fading memory of what could have been. The Flyers came so close with what seemed to be so little going into last year’s postseason.
A slump of fourteen loses since February 26th cost Philadelphia a number one seed in the Eastern Conference as they take on the number seven seeded Buffalo Sabres, who have been unbeaten in twenty out of their last twenty-four games. The Flyers will start a rookie net-miner in Sergei Bobrovsky with the hope of recapturing last year’s postseason magic, but this time finishing what they started and winning a Stanley Cup.
Peter Laviolette joined 97.5 the Fanatic in Philadelphia with Mike Missanelli to discuss if there’s a magic switch that can just make his team turn it on in the postseason again like last year, what has contributed to the late season struggles of the Flyers, if the starting goaltender for game one is going to be Sergei Bobrovsky, is there any truth to the report that Chris Pronger skated for fifty minutes a few days ago and what kind of problems are the Buffalo Sabres going to present to his team.
Is there some magic where this team can just turn a switch on here in the postseason and get serious?
“Let me ask you something? Is there actually a formula for that? You know what I mean? Can someone tell me that for sure it’s gotta be done this way? For sure it’s gotta be done that way? I mean think about it. There’s been great teams in the National Hockey League that have had great seasons and finished strong and gone on into the playoffs and won the Stanley Cup. There have been teams that finished in the middle of the pack and maybe went .500 down the stretch and they’ve gone on and won the Stanley Cup. Last year we won four games of our last twelve and we got in on the last day of the year in a shootout and we played for the game, so we didn’t get there, but we made some distance in the playoffs, so I don’t know if there’s a recipe that actually equals success. I think a lot of times this thing gets broken down into two completely different seasons and the results I think…one can’t determine the other. I don’t think. If you’re asking me I wish we won ten out of ten games down the stretch. I wish we won them all.”
What exactly in your mind contributed to the late season failures for the Flyers?
“I think that we were flat on nights. If we were being honest here I think we were flat. We just didn’t have the pop we needed. Hockey is one of those games where it’s constant movement, constant aggression. You have to be on your toes and you have to be you know rambling down the ice or whatever it is. It takes something to be successful in this game. Without question we were not at our best in some games. If you look at the schedule in the last twelve games there were four games we won, than there were four games we lost and than there were four games that went to shootouts and be honest Mike [Missanelli] I thought we played well enough to win some of those shootout games and the last game against Buffalo where we lost in overtime I think we played better than Buffalo did, but we didn’t. We lost some breakaways and we lost in overtime. I’m not making excuses, like I said I wish we won twelve of twelve. There are some games that stick out. They leave a bad taste in your mouth and we acknowledge that and we got to Ottawa. You expect to beat Ottawa. We’re a team that’s tops in the conference and you’re playing one that didn’t have the year they wanted, but they played well that night. We didn’t play well and they got a win. Were we looking forward to the playoffs? I don’t know. I don’t know exactly what the answers is. I’m not going to make excuses about it. I wish we played better. We didn’t. In saying that, I don’t think that game in Ottawa has anything to do with what’s going to happen on Thursday night. I expect our guys are going to have lots of jump, lots of jam, and our guys are going to be ready to play some hockey. It’s a new season. It’s like a new breath of fresh air that wisps through your room and you get fired up about.”
You’re staring goaltender for game one is going to be [Sergei] Bobrovsky correct? There were rumors circulating that Brian Boucher may get the start?
“I already stated the goaltender would be [Sergei] Bobrovsky. I stated that a week ago. There’s all kinds of stories going around. I stated my intentions. I don’t know what it was six or seven days ago. You know this kid has been…we ended up winning our division and second in our conference, third in the league. We did it with a young goaltender playing over fifty games and carried a lot of points and a lot of parts in the season for us and it’s a new step. You know he has played well enough to get a start to go in there and show what he can do, so as far as Chris [Pronger] goes he’s not on the ice with us at this point. I don’t really have a time frame. I really can’t give you much information on that.”
There was a report that Chris Pronger skated for fifty minutes a few days ago? That wasn’t anything? Is he going to be ready for game one?
“I can tell you he’s not in our practice. That’s not telling…the reporters are out here they see he is not with us.”
Buffalo has been unbeaten in twenty of their last twenty-four. What kind of problems are the Buffalo Sabres going to present to your team?
“That’s a good record isn’t it. Yeah. They’re a dangerous team. They got some skill players on their top two lines. They’ve got a good, steady defense and they’re lead by a really strong goaltender who is back. He jumped in on the last game of the…he played his first full game on the last game. He jumped into the third period against us, so I’m not sure what his injury was. I think we have some idea what it was, but he came back and he got into the lineup there. He’s proven to be a real good goaltender so I think that’s one of the challenges we have is putting the puck in the back of the net against a good, quality, goaltender, but I always like to focus more on our team and we what need to do in order to be successful. Our identity. How we have to play. I find when we are on top of our game we can…you know we always rely on that to beat the opponent as oppose to what do we have to do to not lose to other team. You know ours is more about winning. We need to do this in order to win. Not we need to stop this in order to win. There’s two different ways to look at that.”