Well this is going to be a wildly unpopular position in the wake of all the anti-Penguins bluster flying about, and I probably shouldn’t have sat on it for the better part of a week — but just what was Danny Briere doing on the ice with one minute to go in a 6-4 hockey game against a division rival anyway?
I love the fire Peter Laviolette showed on the bench, breaking Max Talbot’s stick and threatening to turn Dan Bylsma into a refrigerator he once met in New Jersey; but that must-see-television might have been avoided if Briere wasn’t on the ice to begin with.
And, yes, I understand that Bylsma first putting out a scoring line only to replace it with his fourth line seconds later, a situation that might put a Flyer at risk. Still, if there was any thought that the Pens would continue to press in an effort to tie the game, then Briere shouldn’t have been on the ice.
This isn’t about a health liability, its about Danny, god love him, as a defensive liability. Really, isn’t he the guy who routinely serves bench minors and other unaccounted for infractions since he wouldn’t otherwise be utilized on the penalty kill? And isn’t he the guy who’s a career minus-5 despite averaging .8 points per game, dating back to 1997?
I’ll give Danny this, he’s been a plus-skater the last two seasons, and even I’ll admit he’s been by no means as glaringly worrying defensively as he was when he got here. I’ll even concede I might riding him too hard, and that for Danny to be successful at his size, it comes at a price. If I’m the guy who says, “don’t worry, he’ll step it up in the playoffs” when Briere goes through a long scoring drought, then it’s only right for me to acknowledge the role that line of thinking might play in other parts of his game.
But Danny is by no means the first choice when you need to kill clock in your defensive end in a close game. Nor is he the kind of talent you want to expose to a situation in which the other team’s “goons” are on the ice.
So regardless of whatever move Bylsma pulled, and in spite of how awesome it was to see the Flyers head man go ape, Lavy got situationally out-coached in this one instance, when he should have had his own fourth line on the ice from the start. And it’s cost him Briere for an undetermined length.
You can let me have it now.