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Laviolette keeps Flyers' eyes on the prize

Thursday, 06.03.2010 / 3:03 PM / 2010 Stanley Cup Final - Blackhawks vs. Flyers

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

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Laviolette keeps Flyers' eyes on the prize
Peter Laviolette is no stand-up comedian, but he has proven to be a stand-out presence in the Flyers' dressing room.
PHILADELPHIA -- Peter Laviolette has the same stern look before and after each game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring. Not quite a snarl but the type of stare that makes you uncomfortable, especially if you are looking to ask questions of the Flyers' 45-year-old coach.

Laviolette never really says more than he needs to and always seems to have answers to even the most intricate questions, though the response might not always be the most usable material for a full-length feature.

"We don't discuss lineup changes."

"He's played well."

"I can't answer that question."

All throw-away material. But every so often, Laviolette provides a few gems. Such was the case when his team fell behind the Boston Bruins, 3-0, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Prior to Game 4, Laviolette offered up a simple, yet telling, snippet that held true then and could be a difference-maker now following his team's dramatic 4-3 overtime decision in Game 3 to pull within 2-1 against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.

"We have to win one game. I think that's the first thing on the agenda is to get a win in the column," Laviolette said.

Not only would the Flyers win that next game, but they'd string together six straight. Thing is, though, Laviolette doesn't even remember it. When reminded of his team's longest winning streak this postseason, Laviolette paused for five seconds before finally admitting, "Yeah, that was a good one."

But while Laviolette will never self indulge or pat himself on the back, his players have no problem doing just that.

"He's been there before and won a Stanley Cup (in Carolina in 2006), so we really believe that he knows what he's doing and talking about," Flyers forward Danny Briere said. "He's a very good motivator; his speeches are great. He brings a lot of calmness and confidence that is borderline cockiness, which is what you need. You don't want to cross that line but you need to be a little bit arrogant and have confidence in your team and I think that's what he brings to the team."

Even before their first win against the Blackhawks in Game 3, which snapped a seven-game winning streak, Laviolette just felt his team had been playing with tremendous confidence.

"There's always a period in the playoffs that you look back on and aren't happy with, but the guys have a lot of confidence in what they're doing right now," he said. "They believe in each other and they believe they're going to win hockey games before the game is even played and I think that's really important."

Laviolette was asked his greatest influences as a coach during Philadelphia's off-day press conference at Wachovia Center on Thursday afternoon.

His response was certainly predictable.

"I really don't think about those things," he said. "I had lots of coaches that I've worked with and you learn from people and learn from your family; your upbringing, players, you learn from winning and losing."

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, who has been a shut-down beast in the playoffs while logging the most ice time of any player in the League, said he has an idea why Laviolette has done so well behind the bench this postseason.
"He's done an excellent job of keeping everyone focused on the task at hand and that's the next game. We don't look too far down the line. We don't look at possible outcomes in Games 5, 6 or 7. We look at what's ahead of us and, right now, that's Game 4." -- Chris Pronger on Peter Laviolette

"He's done an excellent job of keeping everyone focused on the task at hand and that's the next game," Pronger said. "We don't look too far down the line. We don't look at possible outcomes in Games 5, 6 or 7. We look at what's ahead of us and, right now, that's Game 4.

"Much like it was (Wednesday) when we were worried about one game and that was Game 3. We just keep our eye on the day at hand. What we need to do to be successful and as focused on our systems and structures that he's put in place."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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