The Flyers lost to the New York Rangers back on March 14 mostly due to a pest named Sean Avery. He baited the orange and black into dumb penalties and made them pay with timely offense. Here's what we wrote in our game recap that day.
Avery drew two penalties, scored two goals and was a plus two. On each of his 19 shifts, he genuinely pissed off the Flyers. He got under their skin. He pulled a Sean Avery, and the orange and black gave in. Scott Hartnell dropped his gloves and looked goofy when Avery kept his firmly on his hands. Braydon Coburn took a penalty late in the third thanks to the impetus, Avery. Dan Carcillo was visibly bothered by Avery as well.
He did his job and the Flyers couldn't keep cool. He was the difference, and for a Flyers team in the position that they're currently in, that's absolutely unacceptable. Philadelphia went into MSG today and controlled the game from the outset, scoring an early goal on the power play. Michael Leighton came up strong in goal and things looked to be set.
Then, Avery started his crap and it all snowballed from there. It's unacceptable. They let one player completely change the course of this game. One player who has no business doing something like that.
The sole reason Avery was able to take over the game was because the Flyers entered it with the wrong mentality. If you remember, the Flyers-Rangers game prior to that match-up featured Dan Carcillo's beat down on Marian Gaborik, and all the stories leading into the mid-March tilt were about how the Rangers were ready for revenge.
As a result, Peter Laviolette decided to sit guys like Darroll Powe and Ville Leino in favor of Riley Cote, who logically only got a handful of seconds in ice time during the game. He had no impact on the ice, but his insertion into the lineup sends a message from Laviolette to the players that it's going to be a physical game.
They lost focus, of course, and wound up losing the game by letting Avery run things. You'd think Laviolette would learn his lesson. Fool me once, shame on you, etc. etc.
But, no. Check this tweet from CSN's Tim Panaccio.
Leino out vs. NYR: "They need more fighters [against NYR]," he told me
You've got to imagine that 'more fighters' means Cote is going to play on Friday night. By play, obviously, we mean sit the bench for 58-plus minutes. Not only do the players recognize the absurdity here (evident by the fact that Leino brought up 'fighters' in the first place), but you get the sense from this tweet that Leino is bothered by the notion.
And he should be. The playoffs are on the line here and the Flyers need all the quality in the lineup they can get. Putting in 'more fighters' doesn't serve a purpose.