Panthers notebook

Florida Panthers know new coach will fire up the Philadelphia Flyers

Former Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette gives players instructions in the closing minute of play against the New Jersey Devils in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 6, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.
Former Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette gives players instructions in the closing minute of play against the New Jersey Devils in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 6, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.
Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Tuesday: Panthers at Flyers

When/where: 7 p.m.; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.

TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.

The series: Philadelphia leads 44-29-7.

The game: The Panthers lost 7-1 at home to the Flyers last year, but won both games in Philadelphia. Florida has won at least one game in Philadelphia over the past six seasons; Tuesday is the Panthers’ only visit this year. The Flyers have been outscored 9-3 to start the season.

By the time the Panthers landed in Philadelphia on Monday morning, their upcoming opponent had already fired their coach and named a successor.

The sky is apparently falling all around the Flyers. The Panthers are up on deck.

Philadelphia is off to one of its worst starts in franchise history, an 0-3 run that cost coach Peter Laviolette his job. Laviolette’s firing was the earliest in 40 years in the NHL as the Flyers kicked things off just last Wednesday.

“We’ve still got a long way to go in terms of the season, but it was more about how we played,” general manager Paul Holmgren said at Monday’s news conference. “It was unacceptable. We don’t look like a team at all.”

Philadelphia named former enforcer Craig Berube as its 18th coach. Laviolette led Carolina to the Stanley Cup in 2006 and coached the Flyers to the Cup Finals in his first season as their coach in 2010.

The Flyers have never started a season 0-4. The Panthers try to put them into the history books on Tuesday night.

“They have a good team, there’s a lot of talent here and they’re going to come hard at us,” Brad Boyes said. “They’re going to be physical.”

Like the Panthers, Philadelphia has struggled to score with many of its top players yet to find the score sheet. The Flyers have a grand total of three goals — two coming off the power play.

Former Tampa Bay captain Vinny Lecavalier, who was bought out over the summer before signing a five-year deal with the Flyers, is tied for Philadelphia’s scoring lead with just two points.

Florida, obviously, has its own concerns. The Panthers won their opener by scoring four times in Dallas before falling flat in St. Louis. Florida’s 7-0 loss to the host Blues on Saturday was its worst beating since losing 8-0 at Boston on Dec. 23, 2011.

Philadelphia started last year 0-3 but bounced back by beating the Rangers before throttling the Panthers 7-1.

“We have enough on our plate not to worry about them,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “Historically, this has been a tough building to play in. We have good veterans here who understand that.”

The Panthers’ power play has been problematic in the first two games with Dineen admitting Florida’s 0-for-11 start is cause for concern. Florida is one of seven NHL teams who went into Monday without a power-play goal.

The power play was one of Florida’s few strong suits last year as it ranked sixth in the league with a success rate of just over 20 percent. The Flyers have given up three goals in 15 penalty-kill situations.

“It has been a strength of ours, and I’ve been comfortable relying on it the past few years,” Dineen said. “You want to be on the power play, want to get it done. We know we have the personnel here. We’ll find the chemistry.”


Berube, 47, does have a bit of history with the Panthers. He was suspended for a game in 1997 after calling Florida winger Peter Worrell a racial slur during an altercation while playing for the Capitals.

Worrell, then playing in his second NHL game, said at the time that Berube apologized to him in a phone call and “sounded sincere” for calling him a monkey.

Berube played 17 seasons in the NHL — including parts of seven with the Flyers — and has been head coach of the Flyers’ AHL team as well as an assistant coach in Philadelphia before getting the full-time head coaching job Monday.

“Craig is one of the smartest hockey guys I’ve ever been around,” Holmgren said at Monday’s news conference. “He has some work to do. He understands that.

• Dineen, as well as his coaching staff, is in the final year of their contracts but said he’s not worried about his job.

“I have no control over that,” Dineen said. “I signed a three-year contract. It’s no concern to me.”

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