Judging by Laviolette's record, Bobrovsky will stay in Flyers net

Posted: November 18, 2010

The coaching manual, written by common sense and logic, says to give rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky a night off after making 11 straight starts.

Peter Laviolette threw the conventional coaching manual out the window years ago.

While all signs point to Brian Boucher making his first start since Oct. 25, Laviolette's trends and statistics say he will throw a curveball tonight and stick with Bobrovsky in net for the 12th consecutive game.

Yesterday, when his team had a complete day off, Laviolette said he did not want to release tonight's starting goaltender against Tampa Bay because he had not had a chance to speak to his players.

"I will probably make a decision [this] morning," Laviolette said.

But since he arrived in Philadelphia last Dec. 4, Laviolette has struggled to hand the reins over to the backup goaltender - regardless of a streak in games played or wins.

BroadStreetHockey.com, which compiled the data, reported that it took Laviolette 46 games behind the bench last year to start his backup for a reason other than an injury. The only exception was that Ray Emery was handed his starting job back in January for eight games before reinjuring himself.

Other than that, the healthy goalie has owned the Flyers' crease.

Laviolette has placed an emphasis during the Flyers' current 9-1-1 run on picking up as many points as possible to try and create distance in the standings. Come January, he doesn't want to have to worry about pushing the Flyers into a playoff spot from 14th place in the conference.

"The points are as valuable early on as they are late," Laviolette said Monday. "Any time you can catch a streak or stretch where you're putting points on the board and moving forward, you're separating yourself from team number 11 or team number 10. You're separating yourself as one of the top conference teams. It doesn't matter whether it's the middle of the year or the end of the year, you need to do it consistently."

Bobrovsky said Monday with the help of a translator that he doesn't mind the extra workload. Bobrovsky, 22, has started 15 of the Flyers' 19 games, posting an 11-3-1 record with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

Almost one quarter of the way through the season, he is the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy.

"On one hand, physically it's a little tougher," Bobrovsky said. "But on the other hand, with each game, you get into the game faster. So I prefer to [play] as often as possible."

Bobrovsky's counterpart, Boucher, understands the roll the Flyers and Bobrovsky have been on.

"Let's call a spade a spade," Boucher said last Friday. " 'Bob' has been phenomenal. He really has been fantastic. I can totally understand why Laviolette has wanted to keep him in net. There hasn't been any reason to take him out."

Many thought a streak-killing loss and rest were reason enough.

But if he were to start Bobrovsky tonight, Laviolette would be sending a message to his team that Tuesday night's loss in Montreal was just a blip on the radar. And that conventional coaching isn't always the best way to win hockey games.

Slap shots

Simon Gagne did not make the trip to Philadelphia with the Lightning. He skated for the first time with his teammates this week but is still nursing a neck injury sustained Oct. 25. Gagne does not have any points in eight games with Tampa Bay . . . The Flyers face Tampa Bay, Washington and Montreal in their next three games, all teams in the East they lost to on their first try.

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