Laviolette hopes third time is the charm
Tuesday, 12.08.2009 / 7:00 PM
ISLANDERS (11-11-7) at FLYERS (13-13-1)
: New York 4-5-1; Philadelphia 2-8-0.
: This is the second of six meetings this season between the Atlantic Division rivals. The teams played in Long Island on Nov. 25, with the Flyers coming away with a 2-1 victory -- their most recent victory. Scott Hartnell's
third-period goal snapped a 1-1 tie.
: Will the third game be the charm for new Flyers coach Peter Laviolette? They were routed by Washington, 8-2, on Saturday in Laviolette's first game, and lost 3-1 in Montreal on Monday.
Can the Islanders find a measure of consistency? It seems like their offense shows up every other game, with strong offensive outputs followed by meager games.
The big news with the Islanders concerns a player who hasn't worn an NHL uniform in 11 months. But goaltender Rick DiPietro, who hasn't played an NHL game since Jan. 2, made it through two periods Saturday with AHL Bridgeport and reported no pain in his surgically repaired knee following Monday's practice with the Sound Tigers. He is expected to play again Friday or Saturday, when he should play the full 60 minutes. DiPietro isn't circling any NHL return date.
"I try not to put dates on things," he said. "It's all how the injury responds. … I just want to continue to get better. That's the biggest thing."
The buzzword around the team the last few days is pace. Laviolette demands the game be played at a far higher pace than his predecessor, John Stevens, and the players are trying to keep up on the fly.
"Peter is a real intense man," Scott Hartnell
told the team's Web site. "We were out there practicing, (and) he is almost moving his feet more than we were. He wants action; he wants a lot of stuff happening around the puck, a lot of 'go' on the offense. I think this intensity is going to be contagious."
He saw improvement Monday in a 3-1 loss to the Canadiens, but he knows much more work is needed.
"I thought for 40 minutes … we played the game pretty hard," said Laviolette. "We need to play like we did in that first period and we will play like we did in that first period. Something's in place here. We'll continue to work at it, we'll fix the mistakes, demand effort, and we'll get to that pace for 60 minutes."
Who's Hot --
Matt Moulson's hat trick Thursday gave him a team-high 14 goals in 29 games and puts him on pace for 39 goals. He hasn't scored that many since he was playing junior B hockey as an 18-year-old in 2001-02.
It's hard to find anyone hot on a team that has lost five straight and eight of the last nine, but Danny Briere's
goal Monday against the Canadiens was a beauty.
Injury Report --
Islanders defenseman Jack Hillen sat out Monday's practice, but coach Scott Gordon said he expects Hillen to play Tuesday. Captain Doug Weight (upper body) will likely miss at least another two weeks, while defenseman Andy Sutton (groin) hopes to play this weekend. Radek Martinek (torn ACL) is out for the season. ... Flyers forward Simon Gagne
(sports hernia) is out 2-4 weeks, while Blair Betts
(shoulder) and Darroll Powe
(hand/wrist) are expected to miss two weeks.
Stat Pack --
The Islanders have been feast or famine recently. They've alternated wins and losses in their last seven games, and their goal production has been the difference. In their three wins, they've scored at least three goals in each game. In their four losses, they've scored one goal or fewer.
Puck Drop --
With five straight losses and eight in their last nine, the Flyers are plummeting in the Eastern Conference standings. Teams can't win the Stanley Cup in December, but they need to right the ship fast to keep from losing it.