Peter Laviolette, Paul Holmgren not on hot seat, Flyers official says

Posted: February 18, 2013

As their reeling team tried to regroup from its latest clunker, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and general manager Paul Holmgren were given a vote of confidence Sunday.

Asked whether the Flyers' dismal start had put the jobs of the head coach and the general manager in jeopardy, Peter Luukko didn't hesitate.

"Absolutely not," said Luukko, president of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor. "We just need to be patient, and to even think the general manager or coach are in trouble [is false]. It's not an issue."

After the Flyers' 4-1 loss in Montreal on Saturday night, first-year captain Claude Giroux criticized the team, including himself, for its listless play.

"We're just going through the motions," he said.

The Flyers (6-9-1), who play in New York against the Islanders on Monday afternoon, are 2-8 on the road and 3-7 in games played on consecutive days/nights. Overall, they have lacked discipline. (They have an NHL-high 81 minor penalties.) Their attack - which has scored two or fewer goals in 11 of 16 games - has been anemic.

"I don't think anyone is happy where we are," Holmgren said. "I'd like to think we're better, but we're not playing with the intensity and passion - and that needs to be cranked up to win in the NHL."

Entering Sunday, the Flyers were 24th among 30 NHL teams in goals per game (2.38), and they were 21st in goals allowed per game (3.00). They were 18th on the power play (17.2 percent success rate), and their penalty killing unit, which has been superb in recent games, had moved to 16th with an 81.8 percent success rate.

But they have been woefully inconsistent, rarely putting together three strong periods. In Saturday's loss against backup goalie Peter Budaj, they managed two shots in the first period - and had just 12 shots until a late third-period flurry.

"To win in the NHL, you have to do a lot of the little things well, and we're not doing them," Holmgren said. "We're turning the puck over too much, losing foot races, losing battles for pucks. It's a team thing."

Holmgren said the Flyers need to make adjustments so that "things start to snowball in the right direction. Right now, the snowball seems to be going at us."

To make matters worse, the farm system is weak. That means Holmgren doesn't have much valuable trade material unless he deals some draft picks.

Asked whether he thought changes in personnel were needed, Holmgren said, "I still believe in our team, but we need to play better."

He hopes that Scott Hartnell, the veteran left winger who has missed the last 13 games because of a broken foot, will give the club a lift when he returns to the lineup. Hartnell, who led the Flyers with a career-high 37 goals last season, has skated the last three days and is making progress, Holmgren said.

Hartnell won't play Monday at the Islanders or Wednesday in Pittsburgh, and he is doubtful for Thursday's home game against Florida. It is believed that the earliest he can return is Saturday against Winnipeg, but that will depend on a visit to his doctor later this week.

As for the team's slow start, Luukko said he didn't want to use injuries as an excuse, but he noted they have caused Laviolette to juggle his lines and defensive pairings trying to seek the right combinations.

"We have to be patient and let things run their course," Luukko said.

In a lockout-shortened, 48-game season, that's not easy. The Flyers already have completed a third of their schedule.

On the bright side, Hartnell and defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) are getting closer to returning, and after the six-game road trip ends Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Flyers will have a five-game homestand.

"It has to change," Giroux said of the Flyers' sporadic play. "It will change."


Contact Sam Carchidi at  scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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