But after the first period, it appeared that the comeback was nothing more than wishful thinking. Boston held a commanding 3-1 lead, and the Flyers were looking for inspiration heading into the final 40 minutes. They looked to Peter Laviolette, and the first-year Flyers coach, channeling Gordon Bombay, had an answer.
"Did you all enjoy that?" Laviolette asked the hushed Philadelphia squad.
"No," they finally answered.
"Yeah, well they did," Laviolette answered. "Because they're two points up and we're two periods away from defeat."
Forward Scott Hartnell, who had gotten into a shoving match before the first intermission, spoke up. "Well if we can't beat them, we might as well keep our pride," he said.
"Scottie, that's not pride," Laviolette answered, before launching into a story about being dismissed from the Carolina Hurricanes even after winning a Stanley Cup.
"I know how you feel," he said. "I wanted to cream (Hurricanes owner) Peter Karmanos when he fired me. But you know what? I got a new job. But if I become someone I'm not, if I sink to his level..."
He paused. "Then I've lost more than my job."
The Flyers players nodded quietly.
"We're not goons, we're not bullies," Laviolette said, momentarily forgetting the franchise's reputation. "No matter what people say or do, we have to be ourselves."
Laviolette then pointed at forward Dan Carcillo. "You. Who are you?"
"Dan Carcillo," he answered.
"From where?" Laviolette retorted.
"King City, Ontario."
Laviolette moved his finger to talented sophomore James van Riemsdyk. "You?"
"James van Riemsdyk."
"From where?" Laviolette asked back.
"Middletown, New Jersey."
The exercise continued. "You," Laviolette said to Hartnell.
"Scott Hartnell from Regina, Saskatchewan."
"Who are you?"
"Claude Giroux. Hearst, Ontario."
Now, the Flyers players didn't need Laviolette's prompting.
"Michael Leighton. Sarnia, Ontario."
"Arron Asham. Portage la Prairie, Manitoba."
"Chris Pronger. Dryden, Ontario."
The next two answered one after the other. "Danny Briere. Gatineau, Quebec," said the first. "Mike Richards. Kenora Ontario," said the second, with Briere giving him a pat on the back after his answer.
"Matt Carle. Anchorage, Alaska," the defenseman said, continuing the procedure.
"Simon Gagne. Sainte-Foy, Quebec."
"Kimmo Timonen. Kuopio, Finland."
Finally, it had come full circle. "And I'm Peter Laviolette," the coach said. "Norwood, Massachusetts."
The Flyers players, re-enthused, roared their approval, headed out to the ice for the second period, and sealed a berth in the Eastern Conference finals.
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