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Carcillo, Flyers go together perfectly

Friday, 03.13.2009 / 3:00 PM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Players talk about finding the perfect situation or the perfect place to play.

For Daniel Carcillo, could there be a better place for him than Philadelphia?

For the city that brought the world the ruthless aggression of the Broad Street Bullies, the city that loves a good fight almost as much as a good win, the rambunctious of Carcillo is the perfect fit.

"There is a value in Dan Carcillo," said Flyers General Manger Paul Holmgren. "Dan Carcillo is a good player who happens to be tough and aggressive. That's the bottom line. We think he can play in our top nine. The fans are going to love him."

Carcillo knows all about Flyers fans -- because he is one.

"I was a big fan," Carcillo, who grew up just north of Toronto in King City, Ontario, told NHL.com. "They were the team I liked watching the most. I didn't really take to the Leafs or any other team. When I watched (the Flyers) play, I got drawn to the TV -- their style of play, how aggressive they were, how mean they were."

Carcillo certainly knows about mean. In three NHL seasons, he has 43 fighting majors, including 19 in just 57 games this season. He led the League with 324 penalty minutes last season, and is first this season with 195 in 58 games heading into this weekend's home-and-home clash with the New York Rangers, which culminates in Sunday's NHL on NBC Game of the Week (12:30 p.m. ET).

The last 21 of those penalty minutes have come in four games with the Flyers, who acquired him on trade-deadline day for forward Scottie Upshall and a 2011 second-round draft pick. But what's been impressive is that he has yet to go to the penalty box by himself -- in other words, he's been whistled for five penalties, but has yet to leave the Flyers shorthanded.

Carcillo was accused by Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky of taking "selfish" penalties, but so far, the Flyers have liked what they've seen. In Tuesday's win against Buffalo, he took matching minor penalties with Dominic Moore in the second period and Patrick Kaleta in the third, and he and Craig Rivet received matching 10-minute misconducts with 3:27 left in the game.

"I think it's important he does all his damage between the whistles and allows himself to play all the time we have between the whistles and not leave games early," coach John Stevens told NHL.com. "I thought it was kind of good intensity for that game (Tuesday). It was a big win for us and he was emotionally involved in the game, so that's good for us. I really liked what he was able to do the last few games."

Carcillo hopes to do more good things. Stevens has installed him on a skill line with rookie center Claude Giroux and right wing Danny Briere. It's a place that should be a good fit for Carcillo; last season he became just the 20th player in League history to score at least 10 goals and total at least 300 penalty minutes, and the first since Matthew Barnaby in 1995-96. While he has just 3 goals in 58 games this season, he had a 30-goal season in juniors and a 21-goal season in the AHL.

"I've always been a guy that's scored goals," said Carcillo. "This year it's been a little tough offensively. I've never had a year in any league that I've only scored 3 goals. It's tough (but) we've got 16 more games here and hopefully I can turn it around and bring it into the playoffs. My goals have always come from me going to the net. They're not pretty; they're bang-bang goals in the tough areas. It's something I want to concentrate on more, and it's something they want me to do, score and not just be a meathead running around."

But if he ever does lose his way, Carcillo has no lack of resources to get him back on track. Holmgren is another member of the 10/300 club (22 goals, 306 penalty minutes in 1980-81). Assistant coach Jack McIlhargey racked up 1,102 penalty minutes in 393 NHL games with the Flyers, Canucks and Whalers, and fellow assistant Craig Berube is seventh all-time with 3,149 penalty minutes. Berube lasted 17 NHL seasons because he learned how to stay on the right side of the line between aggressiveness and recklessness. Now he tries to impart that wisdom on Carcillo.

"He's got skill," Berube told NHL.com. "The more he plays the game between the whistles the better he's going to get. If he plays hard, hits and goes to the net, all the stuff he wants to happen will happen. The after-the-whistle stuff, he can't get involved too much into that stuff. The referees are going to crack down on it and end up putting you in the box and you become a marked man. He doesn't need to be doing that. Just play hard between the whistles.

"I think this is a good spot for him. We like what he brings -- his grit, his skill. It's nice to have. He plays on the edge. He just has to find that fine line there. He can't go over the edge; he has to try to stay right on it."

Carcillo understands the way he plays has earned him a reputation, which he admits can work for or against him. He said he understands what he has to do to be an effective player.

"Berube has talked to me a bit and John has talked to be a little bit," said Carcillo. "I just have to play in between the whistles. With my style of play, my hitting, fights are going to come to me instead of running around and talking to guys. I don't have to look for them.

"There's a fine line with the game I play, playing on the edge and with emotion. You just have to keep your emotions in check as best as you can."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.
Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday