No. 12 of the regular season between the Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes
had a different feel than any of the others to at least one man. After
all, it was the first meeting between the two teams Peter Laviolette
has coached to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 2006 ’Canes won it all, unlike the 2010 Flyers, who took the
Blackhawks to Game 6, before having their dreams crushed on Patrick
Kane’s overtime goal. Carolina hasn’t come close to repeating since,
which led to Laviolette’s departure in 2009. Only four players from that
team are still on the roster. That’s a pattern Laviolette doesn’t want
to see repeated here.
Based on the early-season results, including last night’s 3-2 win over
the ‘Canes, these Flyers seem headed in the right direction. A pair of
Scott Hartnell goals and another by Claude Giroux were enough to give
the Flyers their fourth straight win, keeping them atop the Atlantic
Division standings. Rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 26
shots, many of them from point blank range.
The day didn’t start out particularly well for the Flyers, who learned
the NHL was suspending Danny Briere three games for his crosscheck to
the head of the Islanders Frans Nielsen in Saturday’s 6-1 win. Part of
the NHL’s reason for such a severe penalty was because Briere was a
repeat offender (he was suspended two games for a hit last season on
Colorado’s Scott Hannan).
Without Briere in the lineup, Laviolette switched his lines around. The
coach moved Jeff Carter onto Briere’s line, alongside Hartnell and Ville
Leino. It paid dividends early when Leino started off a rush that
resulted in Hartnell backhanding one past goaltender Justin Peters.
Then, after Patrick Dwyer converted a turnover into the tying breakaway
goal 3:05 into the second period, the Flyers answered right back when
Giroux one-timed a Mike Richards’ pass just seconds into a power play to
make it 2-1.
The Flyers needed insurance in the third when Hartnell redirected Kimmo
Timonen’s shot off a face-off into the open corner to make it 3-1.
Bobrovsky took it from there, continually frustrating the ‘Canes, while
the fans called out “Bob! Bob!” — his Americanized nickname, with each
big save. Joe Corvo’s goal with 27 seconds left and the goaltender
pulled made it close at the end.
But it wasn’t enough to prevent Laviolette’s new team from beating his