Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Laviolette eyes Finals; Pronger-Byfuglien matchup looms

After the Flyers won the Eastern Conference title with a rivetting 4-2 victory over Montreal on Monday, winning coach Peter Laviolette looked ahead to his team's ultimate goal _ bringing home its first Stanley Cup since 1975.

Laviolette eyes Finals; Pronger-Byfuglien matchup looms

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   After the Flyers won the Eastern Conference title with a rivetting 4-2 victory over Montreal on Monday, winning coach Peter Laviolette looked ahead to his team's ultimate goal _ bringing home its first Stanley Cup since 1975.

   Asked what it would take to defeat the favored Chicago Blackhawks, Laviolette didn't blink.

   "I'm always a believer if your team can play their style and their system and implement their game, you've got a good chance of winning hockey games," he said. "We'll start preparing for the Chicago Blackhawks, and we'll be ready when the puck drops.

   "I know they had a great year," said Laviolette, who directed Carolina to the 2006 Cup, "....But in order for two teams to get this far, I think both teams have to be playing well, so it should be a good series."

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    Chicago's massive Dustin Byfuglien, a 6-foot-3, 246-pound winger, had three game-winning goals in the Hawks'  Western Conference sweep of San Jose.

     "He's a big guy. I'll be honest, I haven't looked too much into Chicago yet. That would be a good question for a couple days from now," Laviolette said when asked how the Flyers would contain Byfuglien "But you're right, he's a big man. The goal _ I think the goal he scored to put them in the Finals _ exemplifies what he does best, which is to get to the front of the net."

    Laviolette paused.

   "We've got a big guy out there too, No. 20. He does a pretty good job of tying guys up in front of the net. So I'm sure they'll see a lot of each other."

   Laviolette, of course, was talking about 6-6, 220-pound defenseman Chris Pronger. The Pronger-Byfuglien matchup is just one of the many great storylines of the Finals.

    One of the many others: The series will bring together former Blackhawks goalie Michael Leighton and former Flyers forward Patrick Sharp. Chicago gave up on Leighton, much like the Flyers gave up on Sharp.

    Now they are thriving with different teams.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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