The Caps just finished up their morning skate here at Wachovia Center. They were able to skate an hour earlier than normal because the Flyers decided to hold their first skate/practice with new coach Peter Laviolette at their practice facility in Vorhees, N.J.
Tom Poti will play tonight after missing six games with a chest injury. To make room for him in the lineup, Brian Pothier will be the healthy scratch (he was the guy out skating with the injured guys after everyone was off the ice).
Pothier has three goals, four assists and is a plus-10 since being a healhty scratch Nov. 4 at New Jersey. Bruce Boudreau’s reason for this decision is, well … I don’t know, actually. It is a little puzzling. Guys like John Erskine and Milan Jurcina offer more toughness against a physical Flyers team, but Pothier has been the team’s best all-around defenseman for the past month.
Boudreau said there was a “great chance” Jose Theodore will start in net for the Caps, and based on the morning skate it looks like he will. Theodore has played well twice against the Flyers (four goals allowed in 59 shots), while Varlamov was pulled in his lone appearance.
The Caps had a huge advantage going into Thursday’s game (Florida was tired from playing/travel), but the pre-game advantage has swung to the other dressing room in this one. It is reasonable to expect the Flyers to come out, well, flying a day after their coach was fired. Boudreau knows Laviolette well from his days in both Raleigh and Providence.
Laviolette wasn’t keen on his players fighting with Carolina, but that probably won’t fly in this town.
“I don’t think the fans would go for that here,” Chris Clark said.
To be fair, Boudreau said Laviolette’s AHL teams were willing to drop the mitts.
“His teams in Providence had enough toughness to fill a battleship,” Boudreau said.
Still, here is a quote from Laviolette to THN when he was the coach of the Hurricanes that has been circulated by some Flyers-centric blogs of late:
“I have a very strict no-fighting policy for our team,” Laviolette said. “Last year in the playoffs (defenseman) Mike Commodore got into a fight and I said, ‘OK, that’s it. No more fighting.’ I simply cannot afford to lose a player like Mike Commodore to an injury he may sustain in a fight.
“Take a guy like Erik Cole. If we allowed him to fight, I know he would do it. Now if he gets hurt in a fight, our team has lost a very valuable asset. How do I justify that? I can’t. It just doesn’t make sense to me to allow our guys to fight.”
From the reports out of Flyers practice this morning, it looks like Laviolette is going to load up his top two lines with Philly’s top forwards. Before he got fired, John Stevens was tinkering with his lines a lot and was going to have a grinder on every line and split those six guys (Hartnell, Richards, Briere, Carter, Giroux and van Riemsdyk) into three pairs.