NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, October 8th (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (1-1-0) at Philadelphia Flyers (0-3-0), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - An 0-3 start to the season was all the Philadelphia Flyers needed to see before sending head coach Peter Laviolette packing.
The Flyers hope the Craig Berube era can get off to a better start when Philadelphia host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
Laviolette was fired just three games into the season after his team failed to gain a point in those outings. It's the quickest coaching change in the NHL since 1969 when the Detroit Red Wings replaced Bill Gadsby after two games. More recently, the Chicago Blackhawks fired Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the 2008-09 season.
The Flyers played their last game under Laviolette on Sunday, when they were dealt a 2-1 loss in Carolina. That's when Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren decided to the pull the plug on Laviolette, who had been the club's head coach since December 2009 and led the Flyers to a surprising Stanley Cup Finals appearance later that season.
"I made the decision (Sunday) night on the plane," said Holmgren on Monday. "I did not like the direction the team was heading, so we made the change. It was a gut feeling on my part."
The Flyers hired Berube to take over for Laviolette and he'll make his NHL head coaching debut on Tuesday. Berube had just begun his seventh season as a Flyers assistant and is in his 17th overall campaign with the organization. He was a player from 1986-91 and again from 1998-2000, and also served as head coach of the club's AHL affiliate.
"I'm excited to have Craig coach the Philadelphia Flyers," Holmgren stated. "Craig is one of the smartest hockey guys I've ever been around. He demands respect, he's a no BS kind of guy."
Berube's first task will be to get the Flyers' struggling offense on track. Philadelphia has scored only three times in three games this season, posting a goal in each contest.
"We have some work to do," added Holmgren. "I'm not going to let the players off the hook. Things have to get better and they will."
Luke Schenn scored Philadelphia's lone goal on Sunday and Steve Mason was solid in defeat with 32 saves for the Flyers, who have gone 0-3 to start the season for the second consecutive year.
While the Panthers may not be ready to fire head coach Kevin Dineen just yet, it could get to that point if Florida has many outings like its last one.
Florida played Saturday night in St. Louis and was routed by a 7-0 score. The Blues led 1-0 after the first period before tallying four times in the second and twice more in the final stanza.
Tim Thomas, who signed with Florida just prior to the start of the regular season after taking all of last year off, allowed five goals on 28 shots in defeat. Jacob Markstrom took over between the pipes and gave up a pair of goals on six shots.
"We just never did anything to break their momentum once they finally got it," Thomas said.
Despite having seven power-play opportunities on Saturday, Florida still only managed to send 19 shots at Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
"We all have to take ownership in this one," Dineen told his team's website. "It was a butt kicking. We have to move on, get ready for the next one."
The Panthers are beginning this season on a four-game road trip. Florida will close the swing Thursday at Tampa Bay.
Florida won two of three meetings with the Flyers last season, but Philadelphia has taken six of nine overall in this series. The Panthers have won three straight and four of their last five games in the City of Brotherly Love.
10/08 10:47:08 ET