There are select few NHL coaches able to speak about the HBO experience — in fact, there are only four: Dan Bylsma, Bruce Boudreau, John Tortorella and Peter Laviolette.
As such, it was interesting to hear who Laviolette thought would be the star of the next 24/7 series, when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs embark on the road to the 2013 Winter Classic.
“I know Ron — he’ll have fun with it,” Laviolette said of Toronto head coach Ron Wilson. “He’s got a good personality [for the show].
Wilson and Laviolette know each other well through USA Hockey — Wilson was tabbed as the American head coach at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Laviolette the bench boss for the 2006 games in Torino. The Flyers head coach relished his experience on the hit reality series, saying that Wilson will make for some quality viewing.
“Within five minutes of it going on, I forgot I was [on camera],” Laviolette said. “I watched [every episode]. My family watched it, my kids, everybody. HBO does a great job.
“When it comes out next year, that’ll be great –- I can’t wait to see it.”
While HBO has yet to renew its deal to produce the show, Toronto media is already drooling over the possibility of a raw, unfiltered look at the Leafs. Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star assumed GM Brian Burke would love the idea, and guess what?
Burke totally does!
“I believe HBO has done a marvelous job with this series — ‘24/7’ gives fans a look at the guts of the game, and at the same time the breadth of its players and coaches,” Burke wrote in an email. “It is must-see TV for hockey fans.”
Talk about getting thrown into the fire.
Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.
Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.
Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.
We’ll start to find out tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
— Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.
— Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.
— Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.
— Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.
— Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.
— Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen