The long and short of Flyers' goals

Rangers goalie Martin Biron falls in net as Flyers battle for goal.
Rangers goalie Martin Biron falls in net as Flyers battle for goal.
Posted: January 17, 2011

NEW YORK - Peter Laviolette, like most coaches, is a very goal-oriented person.

While publicly he employs an acute, and sometimes cliche, day-to-day approach, a piece of paper hanging up in the Flyers' locker room on a weekly basis displays his long-term vision.

Since taking over as head coach two Decembers ago - when he needed to guide the Flyers from 29th overall to the playoffs in about 4 months' time - Laviolette has broken each schedule into eight-, 10- or 12-game chunks with a certain points goal attached to each stretch.

For the Flyers, over the 10-game stretch they completed last night in New York, which included nine road games, Laviolette wanted to see his team skate away with 14 points.

"We set up a goal before these 10 games," Laviolette explained. "I think it was an important stretch of games and you could have lost your way easily, especially the way we started this trip when we didn't get the results we were looking for in Vancouver."

Rather than losing their way, the Flyers started the trip on Dec. 28 in Vancouver one point behind Pittsburgh for first place in the Eastern Conference. They returned home last night with a three-point lead.

The Flyers have held the NHL's best road record from the start of the season - and no team is within four points of them.

"I think that's probably a reason why we sit where we sit," Laviolette said. "The home record is not bad either. I think there's been a good team effort, both home and on the road."

The theories about why the Flyers have been such a solid road team vary depending on who you ask. Danny Briere believes the Flyers' depth nullifies the home team's advantage with the last line change.

"We're not an easy team to match up against," Briere said. "With all the lines that can score, we're a tough team to play against. And the way I see it, we play the same at home as we do on the road.

"It doesn't seem to faze us. We have a team that can play all types of games. It doesn't matter if it's a skill game or a big physical game. It doesn't really matter."

Laviolette, on the other hand, chalks up the Flyers' success away from home to what they went through last season - both in the regular season and their run to the Stanley Cup finals.

"I think it's always a little harder on the road and I think that comes from some of the battles we went through as a group," Laviolette said. "It toughens your skin. We rely on each other more."

And so, with last night's 3-2 win over the Rangers, the Flyers gained their 14th point since Vancouver, going 7-3-0, and checked off another goal on Laviolette's season-long plan.

"To battle back and win a lot of hockey games in the middle and towards the end [of the trip]," Laviolette said, "I'm really happy with the way the guys have played and the position that we've put ourselves in."

Taking it outside

Without any ice to skate on at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Peter Laviolette decided to make a surprise visit to New York's famed Central Park to get in a brief workout at the outdoor Lasker Rink.

A true departure from the norm, Laviolette allowed his players to have fun by wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts over some of their normal gear as they basked in the sun under the Manhattan skyline for an hour.

"It was a cool thing," Laviolette said. "The weather was beautiful. The guys got out there and were able to drop their guard a little bit. We needed to get some sort of workout in after not having a pregame skate this morning. It ended up being perfect." *

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