Monday, November 22, 2010

Philadelphia Flyers' Coach Peter Laviolette

I like him more than I have liked the last three or four Flyers' coaches. Overall, I think he is a good coach that has a good system for our team.

But I wonder what the heck he is doing all the time. It is confirmed that rookie Russian Sergei Bobrovsky will not start tonight against Montreal; Brian Boucher will get the nod in net. This is a surprise to me. The Canadiens are, besides Washington, Philadelphia's biggest threat in the East and to give the game to a goalie who barely held on against Washington while playing over his head, while getting the saving grace of the post, not once, not twice but four or five times, is just ludicrous. This is an example of Laviolette focusing too much on one aspect and not enough on another. In this case, he is looking at who was in net in a win against Washington and attributing the win to him. Instead of evaluating Boucher's play, how the D plays in front of Boucher, that Bobrovsky is a better goalie and is rested, and the Flyer's can not drop two straight to Montreal.

Laviolette preaches that all players must earn their ice all the time. James van Riemsdyk and Nikolay Zherdev can attest to this. They have fallen short to the numbers game as grinders like Darroll Powe and Andreas Nodl have played well and have yet to relinquish their spots. But the problem with this is that JVR and Zherdev never really get a chance to earn their way back. Zherdev had 2 goals an 1 assist in the game against Tampa Bay Lightning last week, but only saw 1 minute of ice in the third period. In a close game. Wouldn't it make sense to ride the hot hand there? He allows Boucher to continue to play (even though he earned the loss in the Tampa game) tonight because he got the win in Washington. The positive end result was enough to allow Laviolette to ride the hot hand. So why not ride JVR and Zherdev who have spurts of good play? Instead their spurts are cut short by extreme lack of playing time and then we wonder why they aren't playing so well.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Brian Bahr/ Getty Images"][/caption]

I believe that Laviolette is trying to make Zherdev and JVR learn through hard experiences. But what they need right now is simple experience. Zherdev stats prove he can produce with limited ice time, so give him more! JVR needs to work through the sophomore slump with more ice, so send him to the AHL or let him play. With Eric Wellwood called up for tonight's game it looks like JVR may be sitting again, and Zherdev may be seeing restricted ice time. It's time for Laviolette to pick a lineup and go with it. Is he going to give these two players the minutes to make a difference or not? The limbo is only going to adversely affect the team.

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