Of the former Hurricanes in the playoffs, it would be hard to single out a star performer other than Peter Laviolette. The Philadelphia Flyers coach, by trying to climb into the Pittsburgh Penguins’ bench during a late-season meeting between the two future playoff opponents, threw the Penguins way off their game.
The Penguins have been brutal in falling behind 3-0 to the Flyers, and that may be completely independent of Laviolette’s gamesmanship, but there’s no question they have utterly lost their focus and composure, taking ridiculous, predatory penalties and instigating preposterous brawls. The Flyers are hardly free of blame -- they’re thrilled to be the Penguins’ dance partner in this bizarre self-destruction -- and Laviolette sowed those seeds before the playoffs ever started.
The NHL has clearly lost control of what is happening on the ice, with players attempting to injure one another with no fear of discipline -- and for good reason, after Nashville’s Shea Weber was inexplicably let off the hook by Enabler-in-Chief Brendan Shanahan for twice trying to slam the head of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg through the glass in the first game -- and the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series may be the worst
Of course, Laviolette and the Flyers would know as well as anyone that a 3-0 lead is no guarantee, having overcome that deficit themselves against the Boston Bruins two years ago on their way to the Stanley Cup finals.
On the other side of the ice in that series, Craig Adams has 17 penalty minutes in three games for the Penguins and was suspended for Game 4 after picking a fight with less than five minutes to go in Game 3 on Sunday.
Among players, Justin Williams leads the way with three goals in three games for the Kings, who have jumped out to a surprising 3-0 lead over the top-seeded Canucks.
Others: Ryan Carter has an assist and is plus-1 in two games for the Devils, as does Alexei Ponikarovsky; Joe Corvo is plus-3 and Dennis Seidenberg is plus-1 with an assist in three games for the Bruins; Ray Whitney is minus-2 in two games for the Coyotes, while Radim Vrbata left the second game of that series with an “upper body” injury; and Keith Aucoin is minus-2 in three games for the Capitals, making his NHL debut after beginning his career with the Carolina organization in 2001 and playing 53 games for the Hurricanes.
New Jersey (7 p.m., NHLN) and Phoenix (9 p.m., CNBC) both play tonight. Vrbata is listed as day-to-day.
UPDATE, 8:36 A.M. WEDNESDAY: Totally forgot Ian White, whose 39 games for the Hurricanes last season could aptly be described as forgettable. One goal and is minus-2 after Tuesday's games, averaging 18:01 in ice time.
In other news from last night's games, Whitney was amazing in a game otherwise ruined by yet another of Raffi Torres' flying sledgehammers, this time sending Marian Hossa to the hospital. Hossa, it should be noted, had already turned completely away from a puck. That's not finishing a check. It's hitting to kill.
Whitney, though, had the game-tying goal in the Coyotes' OT win and was plus-1, numbers which understate the way he controlled play in the Chicago zone for much of the game. He was outstanding.
Also, Jose Theodore got pulled from a playoff game, which I mention only because it harkens back to Game 6 in Montreal in 2002, when he was shelled by the Hurricanes (yet again) and it took him literally years to recover his confidence.