Peter Laviolette

Laviolette on struggling Flyers: “I’m not ready to paint such a negative picture”


With just three wins in their last 10 games, the Philadelphia Flyers have hit a low point in their season — something head coach Peter Laviolette refuses to dwell on.

“I’m not ready to paint such a negative picture as everybody else is,” Laviolette told CSN Philadelphia. “Through the course of a long season, there are going to be ups and downs. That happens and we’ve talked about it.

“There’s things that we can do better. We acknowledge that. We look at it. We work at it. We look to get better. This team’s had a lot of success month-to-month so far and we had a little bit of a road block this weekend to winning games and we’ll get back on track.”

The “weekend road block” is in reference to a pair of losses to NHL elites — Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers and Sunday’s 4-3 defeat to the Western Conference-leading Red Wings. Beating upper-echelon teams has been a major struggle for the Flyers this season; they’re 0-5 against the Blueshirts and just 15-12-3 against all clubs currently in the playoff picture (seeds 1-8) in the NHL.

As such, the Flyers are now a whopping 10 points back of New York for top spot in the Atlantic. That’s a far cry from Dec. 19, when the Flyers had a four-point lead on the Rangers for first in the division.

Not that Laviolette ever thinks about it.

“I don’t ever talk about the Rangers, 10 points – that never comes up,” he said. “We talk about winning the next hockey game. We talk about winning all of our hockey games and doing the best we can on a nightly basis.

“We’ve got short-term goals and we’ve got segment goals and we’ve got long-term goals. The objective is to win as many games as you can. Nothing changes for us. There’s nothing we can do about the weekend that just happened. We’re disappointed.”

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.