Peter Laviolette is obviously an accomplished coach. He won a Stanley Cup with a Carolina team that still doesn’t get a ton of respect (from myself included…lucky bastards). And we still praise him for his magical timeouts in 2010, most notably the one from game 7 against Boston when we were down 3-0 in the first period. However, I think we’re overlooking a major flaw of his that hampers the team significantly. He doesn’t seem to know how to handle rookies.
Sergei Bobrovsky (last year) – He came out of nowhere, and rightfully won the starting job last year. He started the season off hot, drummed up a ton of Calder talk, before coming back down to Earth. In the playoffs, he was yanked early and then benched. Once the season ended, the Flyers went through a massive overhaul in order to get a “real” #1 goalie. Yet all of this could possibly have been avoided if Lavy hadn’t completely screwed up in how he used him.
In 3 seasons in the KHL, the kid had never played more than 35 games. Last year, we put him out there 54 times. The biggest mistake, was when we started him 11 games straight in October/November. After that, he would start 2-3 games, and then Boucher would come in for a few. He seemed to get worn out, and never got a chance to get back in rhythm. In the last few days of the season, he looked a lot sharper, despite a few losses. When the playoffs started, we gave up on him far too quickly. He played brilliantly in a 1-0 Game 1 loss, followed up by a crappy Game 2. After that we benched him and brought in Michael Leighton as a backup, despite having played on horrible game all season long. Rather than using logic, and pacing his young stud goalie, Laviolette tried to use some goalie carousel magic that completely backfired.
Sean Couturier – The 18 year old was a pleasant surprise as he made the opening day roster this season. What we were not expecting was for him to get a ton of penalty killing minutes. When asked about it, Lavy said the he was our best defensive forward. Hmm, really? He’s proven that much in a handful of preseason games? Sure, he might show flashes of becoming a defensive specialist. But at 18 years old, with zero professional experience, he’s already proven our best penalty killer? Anyway, the kid looked good and he average 14:52 of ice time in his first 5 games. In the last 4, that dipped to 11:34. He’s barely been on the powerplay, so it’s not that. He’s seen a slight dip in his PK time, going from 4:27 to 3:41. But on even strength, he’s gone from 10:11 to 7:49.
What is it that coincides with this drop in playing time? The arrival of Brayden Schenn. He’s supposed to be a big offensive threat, which means you have to give him a chance to play. But is it smart to do that at the expense of another developing player? Before Schenn was brought up, Couturier was seeing a progressive rise in playing time. But the last 4 games have seen him get less playing time than each of the first 5. Did we just draft a defensive specialist as the 8th overall pick? What are they really expecting from him? Is he not destined to be an offensively productive player. I’m not sure what Lavy is trying to do with him. The kid needs to play in order to learn. If he’s only getting his minutes when the team is a man down, that’s probably not going to get him into the flow of the game. He was playing pretty well, and then was just dropped to the 4th line. Something has to give.