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Blowout loss in Laviolette's debut not the change Holmgren wanted

Saturday, 12.05.2009 / 11:52 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- No, this was not what Paul Holmgren had in mind.

When Philadelphia's GM made the difficult decision Friday to fire John Stevens and replace him with Peter Laviolette, he expected his team would play Saturday's game against Washington with passion in an attempt to make a good first impression.

Instead, he got an 8-2 loss -- one that was laden with terrible discipline, bad penalty killing, hardly any aggressiveness in the offensive zone and poor goaltending.

"I would have never called for that," Holmgren said. "To me it looked like our team was not in the game. I know there is a lot of stuff that happened in the last 24 hours, but I don't think Peter put too much new into the game plan that they needed to chew on."

Daniel Carcillo picked up five penalties totaling 29 minutes, including a game misconduct, at 14:33 of the first period. He gave the Capitals a nine-minute power play --  and they scored three times to take a 4-1 lead that ballooned to 7-1 after two periods.

"I kind of thought I left those guys out to dry," Carcillo said. "Killing nine minutes, you don't feel good about that."

But Holmgren didn't even like what he saw before Carcillo's incident with Matt Bradley.

"We didn't have a lot going once the power play happened," Holmgren said. "You have to give credit to Washington. They are a good team and they are playing good without the best player (Alex Ovechkin) in the League. We were not good in any area. There is work to be done, and I think the coaches will get busy with it (Sunday)."

That much the Flyers know and expect.

They are scheduled for an 11 a.m. practice at their training facility in Voorhees, N.J. It'll be Laviolette's first full practice with his new team and really his first good opportunity to start implementing some of his system.

"A new coach coming in kind of tweaked a few of the system things (Saturday) and I think we were a little hesitant out there, but there are no excuses," wing Scott Hartnell said. "When you lose 8-2 it's not your systems, it's not the coach and it's not the goalies. It's everyone in front of them.

"I think Holmgren said it (Saturday) morning: We have to look in the mirrors and demand more of ourselves and then look at your teammates beside you and expect them to do their job and follow suit," he added. "It's our fault. We have to turn this thing around (Sunday) morning and I'm sure it's not going to be an easy one."

What bugged Laviolette more than anything was the discipline problems, and he wasn't referring only to Carcillo. Hartnell also went to the box twice and the Capitals wound up with a late power-play goal from David Steckel, his first goal of the season.

"There has got to be some accountability to the discipline, because we're not going to kill penalties all night," Laviolette said. "I want to get into a position where we're playing that transition game and teams have to haul us down or hook us or slash us or get frustrated because we're jamming and attacking the offensive zone. We're not there yet."

With only one morning skate to implement changes, Laviolette said the only tweak he made was adding a second man to the forecheck, "but once we did do that we didn't establish anything with it. We didn't establish any offensive zone time.

"There is no question that many, many areas need to be better," he added. "Washington was quicker to the jump, they were better within their system and their transition game was better than ours. They had us in foot speed and reaction time. There is a long way to go."

The Flyers still firmly believe they're going to get there -- that they will get better and get back in the hunt.

It was a hard sell after Saturday's game, but the season is only 26 games old.

Quote of the Day

Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.

— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
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