Looking to make the leap: Filip Forsberg

1 Comment

If there’s one player in the Nashville Predators organization who might benefit immediately from Peter Laviolette coaching the team, it’s forward Filip Forsberg.

At 19 years old, Forsberg is heading into technically his third pro season. Two seasons ago, he played five games for the Predators after they acquired him in a trade with the Washington Capitals. Last season, he spent the bulk of his time in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals. There he played 47 games and had 15 goals with 34 assists.

While he played in 13 games with the Predators last season scoring one goal with five points, he averaged just over 11 minutes of ice time per game. Injuries helped slow him down a bit, but we didn’t really seen what Forsberg could do while under Barry Trotz, but Laviolette could provide the change he needs.

Forsberg will have the opportunity to show what made the Caps pick him 11th overall in the 2012 Draft, but it won’t be easy. Competition in Predators training camp at center should be fierce with a mix of veterans and youth.

The Preds added Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, and Derek Roy in free agency and made the middle of the ice a bit crowded in Music City. Throw in fellow Swede Calle Jarnkrok, who they acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in the David Legwand trade, and the competition just amongst the new guys will be stiff. Never mind Matt Cullen, Paul Gaustad, and eventually Mike Fisher (out 4-6 months with a torn Achilles) who are already established there.

Having more than a few centers wasn’t an issue for Laviolette in Philadelphia, so it’s possible Forsberg might find a way to push his way onto the big club’s roster on the wing.  That said, Forsberg is the youngest player out of the group. Jarnkrok is 22 while the trio of Jokinen, Ribeiro, and Roy have loads of NHL experience.

With how things are set up, it seems like Forsberg is almost destined to return to Milwaukee and continue his development there. That puts it on him to show what he can do in September and prove potential can win out over age and experience.

Jokinen ‘wanted to start playing tomorrow’ after talk with Laviolette

6 Comments

When the Nashville Predators signed Olli Jokinen to a one-year contract, it gave the Preds an offensive player up the middle the team was sorely lacking.

While the Preds aren’t exactly a team known for its goal scoring, Jokinen said there was one major factor that led him to sign there: New head coach Peter Laviolette. As Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean shares, that was all the motivation the 35-year-old Finn needed.

“Obviously with the excitement and the passion about the game and ideas of how he was going to coach this team, that was one of the biggest reasons I decided to come here,” Jokinen said. “Speaking with him, I got excited. I wanted to start playing tomorrow.”

Last season with the Winnipeg Jets, Jokinen had 18 goals and 43 points. If you put those numbers on last season’s Predators team, he would’ve been fifth on the squad in goals and points.

With the addition of James Neal to the team, the Preds are in need of someone to get him the puck to score goals. Jokinen will have competition to do that with Mike Fisher and Craig Smith, but he has an established career of setting other players up. Just ask Jarome Iginla from his days in Calgary.

Mixing in Laviolette’s brand of hockey could help all parties involved to boost their numbers. Having to do it in an obscenely loaded Central Division won’t make it easy.

Flyers fire Peter Laviolette; Craig Berube to take over

79 Comments

According to Philly Daily News’ Frank Seravalli and CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio, the Flyers have fired coach Peter Laviolette after four seasons and three games.

Seravalli reports assistant coach Craig Berube will take over. Whether that’s on an interim basis or not remains to be seen. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports John Paddock and Ian Laperriere will join as Berube’s assistants. He adds that assistant coach Kevin McCarthy was also let go.

After missing the postseason last year and getting off to an 0-3-0 start this season, rumors had already begun swirling that perhaps a trade was coming. Instead, it appears Laviolette’s time as bench boss is at an end.

Laviolette was hired during the 2009-10 season after John Stevens was dismissed as Flyers coach. That year he led Philly to the Stanley Cup Final before ultimately losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. He then led the team to the playoffs the next two seasons, bowing out in the second round each time.

According to Kevin Gibson of TSN Research, this is the quickest firing to start an NHL season.

A press conference has been called for 11 a.m. ET today in Philadelphia.

Lecavalier likes Flyers system ‘better than staying on your heels’

19 Comments

Vincent Lecavalier finally spoke with Philadelphia media and may have gotten a dig in at his former coach, Guy Boucher, while doing so.

While the Flyers finally announced Lecavalier’s deal, he was asked his thoughts about the Flyers’ up-tempo system under Peter Laviolette and if he liked that. It turns out he’s a big fan.

“I like that better than staying on your heels” Lecavalier said. “I think when you’re on your heels a lot more, you’re not in the game as much. You’re not as sharp and as quick. I think if you’re on your toes like the Flyers play, I think it makes you a better hockey player.”

When Boucher was let go in Tampa, it was believed there was tension there between himself and some of the veteran players and his defensive system may have been part of that.

If you’ll recall, it was against the Flyers when Boucher’s 1-3-1 forecheck system was challenged via stalling as the Flyers sat back in their own zone waiting to be pursued.

Perhaps all that staying back on their heels was why Tampa’s defense was so poor the last couple seasons and not the motley crew of blue liners that took part in it. Oh, right.

Time for a change? Bruins shut out Flyers 3-0

69 Comments

Another day, another bad loss for the Philadelphia Flyers and this time they were out of it after the first period.

Boston scored three goals in the span of 2:18 of the first including a power play goal from Tyler Seguin to give the Bruins a 3-0 win. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves to earn the shutout in what was another lackadaisical effort from the Flyers.

Philly’s loss coupled with the Islanders’ win over Washington drops the Flyers into last place in the Atlantic Division and keeps them five points back of the Rangers for eighth in the East.

After seeing the way Philly lost on Thursday to Pittsburgh in blowing a 4-1 lead, you’d think a game against a top team like Boston would bring out the best in the Flyers. Instead, they came out with a meek effort that felt like a continuation of their loss to the Penguins and now the question is whether or not it’s time for a major change to be made. At this point, anyone could be fair game to try and fix this team.