Ft. LAUDERDALE On second thought, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette probably would not have done anything different.
Given a chance to digest what happened in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night when the Lightning went into a trap and just stood their ground without movement, Laviolette said he stands by his belief that the onus is on them Tampa to pursue the puck.
The Flyers lost 2-1 in overtime. To his credit, Laviolette said his team didnt lose the game because of the trap but because they didnt convert power-play opportunities and spent too much time in the penalty box.
At the same time, no one liked what occurred in the opening period on VERSUS.
Lighting coach Guy Boucher went into a 1-3-1 trap seven times that period and reduced the game to a virtual standstill. The move had both the Flyers and even the on-ice officials confused over what to do since the Flyers stood their ground, as well, on their side of the red line, refusing to advance.
They held onto it and stayed in their defense, Laviolette said of Tampa. Theres a lot of turnovers that can happen. They put a lot of guys on the blue line.
Its like throwing a pass into the end zone where you know they got 10 defenders and you should look for something different.
I am of the belief that the onus is on them to check the puck. We were waiting for them to pursue it. Its not the game we want to play or like to play
Chris Pronger lashed out at Bouchers tactics after the game. On Thursday, after the Flyers players did a little team bonding golfing, fishing, swimming, beach and pool lounging around Pronger took a shot at Lighting general manager Steve Yzerman.
I think they are pushing hockey back to the stone ages here, Pronger said. Again, Stevie Y and Boucher got their two points, so if you want to try and sell that as hockey then so be it.
But again, as I said last night, look at the players they got on their team. They got some exciting players, who are highly skilled and can play at a high level. For them not to showcase their guys is a disservice to the game of hockey and the league.
He is referring to Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, etc.
Pronger said it was an embarrassment to all. Laviolette said that wasnt his intent by refusing to advance the puck.
Our intent was not to embarrass the game or the league or the sport, Laviolette said. You guys know we are an attack-oriented team.
We want to check forward and push forward and send multiple people into the e offensive zone. Its not the way we played the game last night.
Again I stand by my thought. You need to pursue. Somebody needs to check the puck.
Pronger said he didnt think this tactic was something that the NHL would rule illegal but given the new rules after the lockout designed to open up the game and generate offense, he hinted that maybe fining teams would eliminate such tactics.
I would suspect if you start fining teams for not doing anything like they did, he said. Everybody wants to complain about us. What do you want us to do? If they are not going to forecheck, why should we go after it?
The whole point when you get a team forechecking is you beat a player and pass the puck and move the puck and move north-south or east-west or whatever you are going to do.
If theyre going to just stand here, why am I going to skate up into that? They got five guys sitting right back there at the red line. And further back. Its asinine to think otherwise.
Pronger said the league office needs to do something, not the on-ice officials, who he says already have too much to comprehend.
Its got to come from Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league office and we got to find that its ridiculous, he said. You got to do something out there. That was a nationally-televised game and that turned into I dont know what you want to call that a stalemate if you will.
Danny Briere said the fans that paid to see the game were cheated.
At the end of the day, were in the entertainment business, Briere said. It wasnt a very entertaining game and that is the sad part. The fans are the ones who lose in all that
People that pay, sadly, its the fans who support us. Is it the right thing to do? I dont think so
It remains to be seen whether this matter is addressed at next months Board of Governors meeting.
Given the amount of negative attention the game drew, its likely a subject for debate.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org.