The 731 days and nights of Peter Laviolette

It began with a whimper, but how will it end? That’s the question I find myself asking, as the second anniversary of Peter Laviolette’s hiring passes. We’re at the halfway point for the tenure of most NHL head coaches, so while there’s no question Lavy’s got some good things on his ledger, it’s a given that going forward, we’re simply going to experience the back end of his time in Philadelphia. It was a big step for the organization to bring in the Massachusetts native, then just two days from his 45th birthday. He was an American — only the second …

Thoughts on the preseason opener, brotherhood

As the Philadelphia Flyers began their 2011-12 preseason on Tuesday night with a 4-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, it got me thinking about the close-knit nature of the sport in direct contrast to its international reach. Despite a pool of talent now stretching from Kelowna to Kazakhstan, some things never change. Skating for the Flyers, Blake Kessel and Brayden Schenn. Skating for the Leafs, Phil Kessel and Luke Schenn. Thus, a rivalry was born. Or is it? When I started watching the NHL, back in 1985, its population was almost totally homogeneous: White North Americans made up roughly 95 percent …

Friday roundup

First, there was this from Flyers GM Paul Holmgren: “Spent the day getting to know Ilya and Jeniya. There will be no comment on discussions that are ongoing.” Then, there was Peter Laviolette personally chauffering his presumed netminder around town. Now, this: Ilya Bryzgalov left town and a deal was not signed. Well…there’s always next week’s draft… In other non-local, non-garment-rending news: The Minnesota Wild have a new head coach. Good luck with that. And the Dallas Stars begin a new era where they can’t admit they’re rebuilding with a new bench boss. $50 if you can say his name …

Milestone Madness

It’s amazing to think the Flyers are on pace to reach 1,000 home wins in franchise history.  It would have been sweet to see the Orange and Black do it this past Saturday against the rival New Jersey Devils, but Johan Hedberg and Patrik Elias had a little something to say in that regard. Anywhoo…Philly gets another crack at a grand tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, in the final meeting of a four-game regular-season series which serves as the Flyers’ final contest before the All-Star Break. Since our hockey club, which sits atop the NHL standings, is so close to this momentous occasion, it’s …

Flyers’ best defense still needs more offense

It’s mid-January. The Philadelphia Flyers are in first place in the Atlantic Division and tops in the Eastern Conference, and are challenging for the best overall record in the NHL. The Devils are struggling to rise above the flames of their own personal Hades. The Islanders are sinking. The Rangers are good but not good enough, gasping for air and cramping up in the 21st mile. The Penguins are still hanging about in the rear view, still furiously waddling and flapping but unable to take off. Doesn’t matter though. Things can’t be totally perfect. I know it’s really nitpicking at this …