Monday, May 17, 2010

All hail Peter the Great

The Flyers wasted little time in dismantling the Canadiens Sunday night, and putting a huge dent in the armor of the man who had been their best player in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That would be goalie Jaroloslav Halak. He entered the Eastern Conference finals with a .933 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average in leading Montreal over the top two teams in the East, the Capitals and Penguins. But he exited in the second period Sunday night at the Wachovia Center after giving up four goals on 13 shots.

It says here that the Flyers were actually hurt by the long layoff they had before the Bruins series. Before they awoke from their mid-playoff slumber, they were down 3 games to none. We all know what happened next.
Just for good measure, they fell behind 3-0 in the first period Friday night against the Bruins. And then promptly stormed back to win, 4-3, in the process doing something that had been done only twice before in NHL history, winning a series after being down 3-0.

They didn’t have that problem heading into the series with the Canadiens. They flew home to Philly and were back on the ice two nights later.

There is someone I believe could be this team’s MVP who likely is never mentioned. That’s because he never steps on the ice, except to walk to and from the bench.

It says here this team’s MVP is its coach, Peter Laviolette. It was Laviolette who called a crucial timeout when they fell behind Boston 3-0 Friday night. He told them to look at the clock, to realize how much time was left in the game, that they needed to get just one goal before the end of the period to scratch their way back into the game. So, of course, that’s precisely what they did.

But to really appreciate Laviolette, you needed to listen to his post-game press conference. It was an eye-opener, especially for Philly fans who have become so numbed by the meaningless blather we too often get from Andy Reid, and the down-home colloquialisms of Charlie Manuel.

Instead, Laviolette actually offered an eloquent analysis of what the Flyers had just accomplished, topped by their Game 7 come-from-behind conquest.

“Game 7’s are for men,” the coach explained, offering homage to his players.

Sunday night’s win over Montreal likely was something of a mirage. Halak is not likely to be that bad again. Remember the Canadiens also dropped Game 1 to the Penguins.

But when the Habs come storming back, the Flyers will have a secret weapon on their side.

He’s the guy standing behind the bench.

Peter the Great.


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