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Carcillo finds effective balance as pest, producer

by Mike G. Morreale
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Here's a suggestion for the audio crew responsible for piping in the music at every Flyers home game -- don't be afraid to cue in a little Johnny Cash every so often.
After all, agitator Daniel Carcillo realizes he must "Walk the Line" whenever his number is called during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And, quite honestly, it's a role he's perfected through seven games this spring.
"We all ask Danny to walk the line in giving us everything he's got and not cross it, and he's done a pretty good job," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "He took a lot of shots in the Buffalo series and you'd like to see some results from the discipline he's shown."
While Carcillo might lead the team with 26 penalty minutes this postseason -- 20 of which came on a misconduct and game misconduct late in Game 7 against the Buffalo Sabres -- he's also aggravated his opponents to the very core. Not to mention, the player affectionately known as "Car Bomb" has also chipped in with 2 goals, 13 hits and 4 takeaways while averaging just 9:08 of ice time.
"Earlier in my career, I was a loose cannon, but the last two or three years it's really been a non-issue of me taking undisciplined penalties," Carcillo said. "Everyone likes to talk about it lot, still, but it is what it is. It's always tough to live on the edge and play on the edge, but that's what I have to do to be effective.
"Part of my job is to take the attention off some of these guys and give them a little more room out there, so it's nice to get those other players off their game a little bit."
But Carcillo admits he won't just target anyone. He's always looking to make a play here or there and, when the opportunity presents itself, raise the ire of a few of the game's most skilled performers. For instance, Carcillo seemed perplexed when asked if he and Boston Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton would likely exchange pleasantries at some point in this series that begins Saturday with Game 1 at Wells Fargo Center (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
A legitimate question when you consider it was Carcillo and Thornton who went toe-to-toe in the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston.
"I don't see a reason to talk to a guy like that," Carcillo said, matter-of-factly. "I'd rather talk to other guys. He's not a typical guy who's going to make a huge difference out there, so you got to be hard on the right guys in the playoffs."
Flyers captain Mike Richards, who has played alongside Carcillo for much of the playoffs, considers his linemate a key component to playoff success.
"He's played hard and scored big goals for us when we needed him to," Richards said. "He's a very sound defensive player, which I don't think he gets enough credit for. He's a pain to play against and finishes hits any chance he gets. As an opponent, you have to be aware of him whenever he's on the ice."
At one point during Game 7 against Buffalo in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Carcillo and Sabres goalie Ryan Miller were in a heated discussion. Miller was obviously hoping to goad his opponent into taking a penalty, but Carcillo never took the bait.
It was at that moment Carcillo felt he had won the battle.
"I guess it was pretty evident I had gotten under his skin at that point," Carcillo said. "Earlier on in the game, when he put his stick up into my face, I had him right where I wanted him. I didn't get any calls, but maybe it led to a couple of soft goals and maybe he was thinking about the wrong things."
Mission accomplished.
"It was evident the Sabres were trying to get him off his game, but instead of letting it frustrate him, he used it as positive energy to really go in there, throw another hit and be effective," Richards said. "He's a great guy to play with. He creates a lot of room and attracts a lot of attention on himself instead of the other guys. I've played with him a lot and have had success with him. He's a great guy to have in your lineup."
One thing's certain: Carcillo will now focus his attention on Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
"It seems like when he gets into the game more, he plays even better so there's a fine line you have to walk," Carcillo said of Thomas. "I'll go to the net hard, be around the net and stop right in his face any time I can. And I'll be there for rebounds and the hard goals. That's what I do."
And why not? It's his job.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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