CHICAGO - MAY 27: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers answers a question during Stanley Cup media day at the United Center on May 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
It's all about the image, and Peter Laviolette, as a coach of a team down 0-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals, was very cognizant of that image on Tuesday's off day. Joking around with the media, Laviolette gave the impression that the Flyers are not under any pressure despite the 0-2 hole they face.
Just take a look at the video from his media availability today. He's joking around about shirts. Peter Laviolette. I mean, really?
It's something he's done throughout these playoffs, though, most notably by deflecting pressure to the Boston Bruins in the second round. He's sending a message to everybody involved -- media, fans, his players, and the Chicago Blackhawks -- that the Flyers aren't worried. They've been here before, they're on home ice, and that's all that matters.
It's a message that's carried through the team, and it's one that's best exemplified by, who else, Chris Pronger.
The most entertaining non-hockey aspect of these Finals thus far has been Pronger's role in them. His interaction with the media and his interaction with the Blackhawks on the ice between the whistles has been truly hysterical. While some in the national media find this sort of thing to be "dickish," "childish," or even "crass and dishonorable," Pronger's just doing some of what he does best.
He'll go out on the ice, put in 30 minutes of dominant hockey, and even though his team didn't come out on top, he'll calmly and coolly do a few things that get under the skin of the opposition, because he's confident it'll be a long series, you see. And this type of stuff can take people off of their game in the long run.
I mean, if Pronger skating across the ice he to "steal" a puck from Antti Niemi, a young, impressionable goaltender playing in his first Cup Final, pisses off Ben Eager enough that he skates away from his team's on-ice celebration to confront Pronger, it's clear number 20 is doing something right. Never mind the fact that his post-game puck stealing is a complete non-story, it's just Pronger's general aura that pisses people off. That's why he's such a dangerous commodity even when he's not playing the game.
It's all part of being in the Cup Finals. Pronger is getting under the skin of the opponents while completely changing the topic of conversation from his team's loss in Game 2 to some mild antics at the end of Game 2. In my estimation, that's just brilliant.
He takes the heat at the press conferences because of it all, and while he does that, he laughs it off like nothing is going on. Pronger, as de facto player spokesman of the team, looks cool as a cucumber, just as the team is, no matter the circumstance.