GAME: New York Islanders (22-20-4-1) at Carolina Hurricanes (16-21-9-2).
TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.
Peter Laviolette isn't hiding the fact that beating his former team would be
Laviolette, facing the team he coached the past two seasons, will be trying
to get his current club -- the Carolina Hurricanes -- closer to a playoff spot
when they host the New York Islanders.
Despite leading the Islanders to the fourth-best turnaround in NHL history
in his first season and making the postseason in his only two years with the
club, Laviolette was fired at the end of 2002-03 following a second straight
first-round exit from the playoffs.
In conducting interviews with players following the playoffs, Islanders
general manager Mike Milbury said Laviolette's poor communication with his team
led to his firing.
"I'm not talking about strictly the results," Milbury said in June. "I'm
talking about a methodology in coaching and communication with players. If you
don't have it, it's pretty tough to succeed. And it looked to me as if it had
Laviolette, hired as head coach of the Hurricanes on Dec. 15, admitted he
would take special pleasure in beating his old team as Carolina tries to catch
the Islanders for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
"Of course I want to win, I feel I have something to prove," Laviolette
told New York Newsday on Monday. "We want to kick butt on the Islanders. Don't
get me wrong."
Although generating offense remains a big problem, the Hurricanes have been
a better team since Laviolette was hired, going 8-9-1 after compiling an
8-12-8-2 record under Paul Maurice.
Josef Vasicek and Jeff O'Neill scored second-period goals and Kevin Weekes
stopped 20 shots Wednesday, leading Carolina to a 2-1 victory at New Jersey.
O'Neill has performed much better since Laviolette took over. He has six
goals in the past seven games after scoring four times in his first 41
"The first half of the season couldn't have been worse," O'Neill said.
"The puck is finally going over the goal line."
Poor road play in their first season under coach Steve Stirling has
prevented the Islanders from solidifying their grip on a playoff spot. They are
5-12-4-1 away from home this season, including 0-3-2 in their last five.
After recording back-to-back wins at home over Buffalo and Ottawa, New York
lost 2-0 at Toronto on Tuesday.
The Islanders are 3-5-2 in January following a 10-4-0-1 December.