Laviolette preparing Flyers for stretch run

Coach Peter Laviolette has been a key catalyst in bringing his Philadelphia Flyers team out of the Eastern Conference basement. Laviolette came to Philadelphia to a team in disarray. A team that all of a sudden had no continuity and convinced some fans that this season was all but lost.

The Flyers are 13-11-2 since ‘Lavvy’ took over the helm after John Stevens was relieved of his duties. That record, those 11 losses, are quite deceiving giving how this team has played over the past month and a half. Laviolette has instilled to this team a system that has made this Flyers team seem like a team that was picked to win the Stanley Cup by numerous hockey outlets.

The Flyers have been scoring goals just as efficient as they are preventing them. The defensive corps under this ‘system’ is sound and effective. The offense has found their identity and it works. For the first time in a matter of years this Flyers team has four lines that get the job done. They can score and shutdown their opposition.

With all these positives there has to be a surrounding negative.

The Olympics.

It’s no secret that the upcoming Olympic break will affect every NHL team, especially if those teams top players will represent their respective countries.

For a team like the Flyers, this break couldn’t come at more hazardous time. It glaring that the Flyers have picked up their game substantially. Enough so, that there is talk about climbing as high as the fourth or fifth seed in the East. Olympic break could really hurt a team like the Flyers because of the buzz kill it brings.

With the roll the Flyers have been on, the three-week break that the Olympics brings can harm this team. Especially since their top stars will be headed to Vancouver to participate. Chris Pronger, Mike Richards, and Kimmo Timonen most notably will be competing for their countries. If there is anyone in that locker room that need those three weeks or so to rest their motors, its them three.

Overall, coach Laviolette has a lot left on his plate before playoffs even start to be a topic of conversation. Does his team have a legitimate shot at being a force in the playoffs? Absolutely. Do they have work that needs to be done to become again considered a Stanley Cup contender? Without a doubt. Health is a big issue, same can be said with any team on the league except it means more to Philadelphia.

The Flyers were struggling to say the least when both Darroll Powe and Blair Betts were out of the lineup. They flourish more often than not when their doing their jobs on the ice. Betts, is one of the best penalty killers in the NHL while Powe brings tenacity and speed to any line he gets put on. It’s the little things that guys like them do that help a team win that doesn’t necessarily show up on a score sheet.

Furthermore, with a tough and inconvenient break coming up fast, many feel that Laviolette has enough of a grasp on his players that they’ll come out of this break just as impressive as they were going in.


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