It took twelve games, but those able to question Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette directly finally started mentioning Laviolette's penchant for running his starting goaltenders into the ground.
Oh, it also took Sergei Bobrovsky himself saying to a foreign publication, "I need more sleep and recover physically. On one hand, it affects that I play so much. It's a pretty big work load. But on the other hand, it's easier to prepare for the next game. You're always in that game mode." Broad Street Hockey's Teemu H picked up on the story on Twitter overnight, with Travis Hughes writing about it earlier today.
Since, the story has been picked up by many other outlets, with both Frank Seravalli and Tim Panaccio quoting Peter Laviolette's response to their questions. Needless to say, Laviolette seems annoyed by the notion that he is making an incorrect decision.
"I talked to Bob [on Wednesday] and he said he felt pretty good," Laviolette said. "He had a day off [Wednesday]. Yeah, you worry about fatigue with all your players. Defensemen play 27 minutes and out there battling. We had a day off, a break, we come in here fresh."
Well, I hope you talked to your goaltender, but do you think he'd tell you anything other than "I feel pretty good"? This doesn't tell us anything, since almost no player will beg out of a game. Second, I'm glad he had a day off, but he just played two games in two nights. I would hope he got a day off. Again, this tells us nothing.
Then, we move onto defensemen playing 27 minutes a night. Surely this is hyperbole, since Kimmo Timonen leads the defense core with 22:38 of ice time per game this year. Yes, that fluctuates, but he's never seen 26 minutes a night this year. But one of the goals of the off-season was to acquire a third-pairing that would prevent defensemen from getting 27 minutes a night. In fact, coach, you were quoted as saying:
"I think when you get into playing defencemen 30 minutes a night, consistently every night, it takes a toll on those players," ... "These acquisitions give us more of a luxury of possibly resting other players. Like I said, we have real good depth on the back end and this can give us a chance to cut back on some minutes and get more of a roll on the back end."
So you understand that defensemen playing 27 minutes a night takes a toll. And in order to prevent that, you now have the "luxury" of resting those players. Giving them a day off is supposed to accomplish that? Okay. But what does any of that have to do with your rookie goalie?
But when Laviolette was pressed, that's when his annoyance showed through:
"I have more stock in the conversations that take place with Jeff Reese and the conversation I had with Bob yesterday, than hearsay or something that is missed in translation.
"[Bobrovsky] has a good relationship with Reeser. I think … was he tired after the Montreal game? Well, he should be. We traveled through the night. We didn’t get in till late. You don’t go to bed until 4 [a.m.]. We played the Canadiens and he played back-to-back games. I’m sure a lot of our guys are tired.
"So we a had day off yesterday and gave them the rest they need to recover. And kept them away from the rink. They didn’t have to listen to me yap. We move forward today."
More stock in conversations with you than reporters? That's fine, I don't trust quotes from players in the news either. But didn't we just go through a problem where the organization wasn't getting honest answers from their players? Oh, right. So both Leighton and Laperriere "weren't completely honest" when they said they were fine. And they were dealing with an injury that required surgery and an injury that is threatening a career. But Bobrovsky wouldn't tell a reporter he's fatigued while lying to you?
Really, the issue here isn't that Bobrovsky is starting 12 games in a row - though that's a big part of it. The issue here is that Laviolette is saying a day off after back-to-back games is enough to recover from fatigue. And a player would never lie to their coaches about being tired. Neither one of these are plausible, but it's what we're being told anyway.
Everyone says he's young, he can handle it. But how does anybody know? He's never played more than 35 games in a season, and so far he's played three back-to-backs, three games in four nights three times, and has only had three days between games once in the last three and a half weeks.
Tonight will be Bobrovsky's fifth game in eight days. Right after playing five games in ten days. Giving him yesterday off doesn't erase all that workload.
When you consider Peter Laviolette's history with starting his backup goalie while here in Philadelphia, you really wonder why the team even employs a backup at all. Oh, you mean they became the starter when the over-worked guy went down with injury? Maybe Laviolette needs two starters, one just in case.