Laperriere Makes Mark With Flyers
(from the Philadelphia Inquirer)
By Sam Carchidi
Inquirer Staff Writer
October 5, 2009 - When Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren signed free-agent Ian Laperriere in the off-season, he admitted Laperriere was a player he had "coveted for a long time."
Two games into the season, it's easy to understand why Holmgren was so enamored.
The scrappy right winger/center has provided energy, superb penalty-killing and his first goal of the season, helping the Flyers start 2-0 for the first time since 1998-99.
While goalie Ray Emery has been sensational, defenseman Chris Pronger has been as good as advertised, and Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have scored two goals apiece, Laperriere has been supplying valuable minutes.
The fourth line of Laperriere, Dan Carcillo, and Blair Betts - call them the LCB Line, Part II - has been surprisingly effective. And though they aren't in the same stratosphere as the famed Reggie Leach-Bobby Clarke-Bill Barber line, they have created havoc for opponents.
"I think we have four strong lines that can play against any lines on any team," Laperriere said.
John Stevens concurred.
"They've been tremendous," the Flyers' coach said of the fourth line. "They cycle the puck; they make you stay for long stretches in the offensive zone. They really take their checking role seriously, and then they get some production as well."
In a 5-2 win in New Jersey on Saturday, Laperriere scored from a tough angle near the right goal line, beating the legendary Martin Brodeur and giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead.
Laperriere, 35, he of the shaved head and engaging personality, described it as an excuse-me goal.
"If I don't know where it's going, I don't think Marty does," he said with a laugh.
His offense aside, Laperriere has combined with Betts, another experienced newcomer, to form an outstanding penalty-killing duo.
In two games, the Flyers have killed 12 of 13 penalties (92.3 percent).
Laperriere said he and Betts enjoy the penalty-killing niche that has given them an identity.
"I've made a career out of that, and Betts has made a career out of it," he said. "You need guys like that."
But he cautioned that the Flyers have committed too many penalties and have been fortunate that Emery has bailed them out.
"There's room for improvement," he said, referring to undisciplined infractions.
There's also time for Laperriere, a Montreal native, to learn about the Flyers' most hated opponents. Since he has spent the last 13 years with Western Conference teams (Los Angeles and Colorado), he is unfamiliar with the team's fierce Eastern Conference rivals.
"I'm all new with these guys," he said, smiling. "I'm not mad at anybody yet."
This week, he will get a firsthand look at two of the Flyers' top rivals, Washington and Pittsburgh. The Flyers play their home opener tomorrow against the Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals, then play host to the Stanley Cup champion Penguins on Thursday.
"I have to look at the stats to see who they are," Laperriere said of the Eastern teams. "They're all new to me. Trust me, I'll find my rivalries."