Flyers responding to Laviolette

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

This is more of what the Philadelphia Flyers were supposed to be this season.

A good team with plenty of firepower up front that was strong defensively and had solid goaltending.

However, it took a coaching change to finally become it.

"There were high expectations that went along with the aggressive moves the team made this summer, bringing in guys like (Chris) Pronger," said Flyers defenceman Braydon Coburn. "Any time you're in Philly you're expected to win and I think we were letting ourselves down by that skid we hit there and through that rough time we had."

The Flyers started the year well enough, winning their first three games of the season and getting off to a 12-5-1 start.

But they began to stumble, losing six of their next seven which cost head coach John Stevens his job.

Peter Laviolette took over and even though he got off to a rough start, losing his debut 8-2, eventually things turned around.

Heading into their game Wednesday night against the Oilers, the Flyers had won 13 of their previous 19 games.

"There were some system changes and little things on how meetings were run and things like that," Coburn said.

"Peter has a little different message than what John Stevens had. It's unfortunate, because to a man in this room, I think everyone will say John Stevens was a good coach. But unfortunately we weren't playing well and (GM Paul Holmgren) felt that he had to make a change. He did and I think guys started to gel under Peter's system."

Laviolette has the Flyers back in the playoff picture, third in the Atlantic Division standings behind the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins, who are running away with the Conference.

"I think we're moving pretty good on the ice. When we press the puck to get it back, we seem to be moving better out there," said Laviolette.

"Systems are just a way to navigate your way out on the ice. Ultimately it's the players that go out there and do the work and when they're on their game and they're working hard we seem to have success.

"There was a change and we got through that change, there was a little bit of a transition. The players have been playing really hard, they bought into it and ultimately they're the ones that make the difference."

The Flyers are currently in the middle of a modest Western swing which saw them defeat the Calgary Flames 3-0 on Monday. It was arguably one of their best road games of the season.

"I think any time you win, you build confidence," Coburn said. "That's team confidence and guys are buying into working hard and it's resulting in wins and everybody gets more confident in that."

The Flyers' play of late has coincided with strong goaltending.

Starter Ray Emery was forced to sit out after requiring abdominal surgery forcing Michael Leighton to take over. The little-known goaltender won eight of his first 10 games. Since then, Emery has returned and played in all eight previous games for the Flyers heading into Wednesday's contest.

"Ray has done a great job," said Laviolette.

"I thought in his last game he was really sharp. He didn't have a lot of work, but did have to make a couple of big saves for us.

"He wasn't rushed back in once he was healthy because Leighton was on such a run. But now that he's back, sometimes the best thing is to play a lot to try and get to where he was before."


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