Welcome to the Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Facebook of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Twitter of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Instagram of the Philadelphia Flyers Official LinkedIn of the Philadelphia Flyers Official DeskSite of the Philadelphia Flyers Flyer Wire
  • RSS

Laperriere and Betts Give Their All for Flyers

Sunday, 04.18.2010 / 12:28 PM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com
Share with your Friends

Laperriere and Betts Give Their All for Flyers
(Philadelphia, PA) - It takes a lot more than having a few teeth knocked out and taking 70-plus stitches over the lip to keep wing Ian Laperriere off the ice.

Perhaps that's what makes him one of the most appreciated players in and around the Philadelphia Flyers locker room these days.

There's no question Laperriere has become a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love, not to mention one of the team's finest defensive forwards. In fact, when he’s partnered with Blair Betts, a player with similar traits, opponents rarely find the space or room to breathe in the attacking end.
Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts are two key components to what has been a very successful penalty-killing unit of late. (Getty Images)

That's because Laperriere and Betts are ruthless when it comes to denying the opposition. They refuse to give ground or allow pucks to reach their goaltender – the two combined for 137 blocked shots in the regular season and have four through two games of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal with the New Jersey Devils. The series, knotted at one win apiece, resumes Sunday at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

No one appreciates players like Laperriere and Betts more than the goaltender who plays behind them.

"They are unbelievable," Flyers goalie Brian Boucher said. "These are guys that don't get a lot of print, but we know in that locker room how important they are and they pay the price every night, especially on the penalty kill. These guys block shots, and Bettsy's great on draws. They're the type of guys you need to win -- and if you don't have them, you're not going to win."

With Laperriere and Betts doing their thing on the penalty-kill for coach Peter Laviolette, the Flyers are clicking at an 87.5 penalty-killing efficiency this postseason -- allowing one goal in 8 shorthanded situations. Betts (3:51) and Laperriere (3:14) rank first and second, respectively, among the forwards on the team in ice time on the penalty kill.

Unfortunately, however, being sacrificial lambs can have its drawbacks.

It was during a penalty-killing situation back in November against the Buffalo Sabres when Laperriere learned a lesson in shot-blocking. That's when Buffalo's Jason Pominville uncorked a slap shot directly into Laperriere's face. It would be one of 74 blocks on the season for "Lappy" -- the most of any Flyers forward.

"What I did was stupid," Laperriere said. "I was in the slot and went on my knees thinking he was closer and took it right in the face. It was the first time I was ever seriously injured blocking a shot. I'm more mad at myself than about the guy who took the shot because it's my fault. You learn from your mistakes though and that's what I did. I'll never block a shot like that again."

Laperriere could barely speak the next day because much of his mouth was stitched up and he lost seven teeth -- five real and two false. But he still attended the optional morning skate the next day and even played in Atlanta.

"Blocking shots and playing good defensively is something I take pride in," Laperriere said. "This time of the year, blocking shots is just as big as scoring a goal. The day I start going ‘flamingo’ or moving out of the way is the day I'll call it a career."

Ditto for Betts, who, like Laperriere, was signed to a free-agent contract by Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren for his defensive acumen.

"I think gaining an appreciation as a penalty-killer was a gradual process," Betts told NHL.com. "When I was playing major junior in Canada (with Prince George of the Western Hockey League), I was a young player coming onto the team and I had a similar role as a third-line checking center. I killed penalties, and that's where it started. Over the years, I developed more of an offensive role but I was still always taking faceoffs and killing penalties."

Betts felt his four seasons with the New York Rangers from 2005-06 to 2008-09 helped instill even more confidence in his defensive game.

"I'd be surprised if there was a team that didn't want to have a good special-teams guy on their roster," Betts said. "Some teams want a guy who can contribute a little more often offensively and still kill penalties. It's all what a team wants. Right now, I'm just fortunate and happy that a there is a team in the Flyers who want me on their team."

Laperriere feels the fact he has worked so hard throughout his career to improve his defensive game is the reason he's still a contributor in the NHL.

"I figured out in my second year in Los Angeles (1996-97) that, if you want to play a long time in this League, you have to find your niche on the power play or penalty kill," he said. "Because if you only play a regular shift, especially now in the cap era, teams are going to find somebody who's going to make a lot less money than you and be able to do the same thing.
They're the type of guys you need to win - and if you don't have them, you're not going to win." - Brian Boucher on Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts

"You have to play a specialty (team) -- and for me, the power-play wasn't an option," Laperriere said with a smile. "I had to work on my penalty-killing and I played with great guys who taught me and showed me the ropes like Guy Carbonneau in St. Louis (1994-95) and coaches Rick Green and Larry Robinson in Los Angeles. Those guys in L.A. really helped push me toward the defensive side."

Laperriere, who was selected as this season's Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award winner by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, also credited junior coach Jean Hamel with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 1990 through '94 for teaching him the art of shot-blocking.

"Jean used to teach us the art of blocking shots using tennis balls on the ice," he recalled. "He’d toss them at us and we'd slide left to right and get the timing down. He didn't want to hurt us, so he used tennis balls -- you never forget those things."




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
Privacy Policy | AdChoices | California Privacy Rights | Contact Us | Advertise Employment | NHL.com Terms of Use

Philadelphiaflyers.com is the official Web site of the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia Flyers and philadelphiaflyers.com are trademarks of Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.