MONTRÉAL – Dan Carcillo is a lot of things.
He is a pest, an agitator and as Peter Laviolette has proven this season – a pretty decent hockey player.
Most surprising of all, to some, is the fact that Carcillo is a good teammate. Carcillo, believe it or not, represents exactly what the Stanley Cup Playoffs are all about.
Yesterday, before the Flyers' 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens, Laviolette was forced to scratch Carcillo and third-liner Andreas Nodl, who filled-in admirably, to make room for Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere.
To Carcillo's credit, Laviolette called the move "one of the toughest" he's had to make since he arrived as the Flyers' bench boss in December.
"Danny's a valuable part of the team," Laviolette said. "And I love Danny Carcillo and the way he plays the game."
After the game, Carcillo said he had no problem with the move.
"It's tough to not play," Carcillo said. "But you've just got to look at the bigger picture. Jeff played great and Lappy played physical. It's a great team win. The guys had a lot of jump. It's great to see. We're up 3-1."
Clearly, it came down to a numbers game. Besides Nodl, Carcillo was the only piece that could be pulled out of the puzzle without breaking up the Flyers' second and third lines and all the chemistry they created.
Laviolette moved Carter to the wing with Simon Gagne and Mike Richards.
"There's just not enough numbers to go around," Laviolette said. "It's just one of those tough decisions. You've got people who have sacrificed to bring you this far. I had to make a decision because those are tough one's because he's a good kid."
Up until he started skating on the Flyers' top line with Richards, Carcillo had always been viewed negatively – and part of that could be because he was traded for a popular play in Scottie Upshall. He couldn't control that.
In Laviolette's coaching debut with the Flyers, Carcillo – the NHL's penalty minute leader in 2008-09 – gave the Capitals a nine-minute power play. Washington scored 4 times on that power play and the Flyers lost 8-2. Remember that? Carcillo was suspended the next day.
He has come a long way since then. Carcillo went from goon to 12-goal scorer. He is one of the most well-liked guys in the Flyers' dressing room. He made a believer out of Laviolette and the entire Flyers fan base, who now wear "Fear the 'Stache" shirts to games and jerseys with his name and number on the back.
The fact that it was such a tough call says more about Dan Carcillo than anyone would have believed six months ago.
Now, one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, he is just one reason why this Flyers team is way more of a "team" than a lot of us thought six weeks ago.
Ian Laperriere did not know how his brain would react.
Exactly four weeks and two days after sustaining one of the most vicious injuries in the storied tradition in playoff annals, Laperriere knew that all of the practice in the world could not have prepared him for the first bump his noggin would take on Saturday.
How would it feel? Would he be dizzy? Would he have a pounding headache? Would his eye hurt?
"I won't lie to anybody," Laperriere said. "I was nervous all night [Friday] and [Saturday] just to take that first hit."
He did. Early. Just 5:32 into the game, Laperriere tangled with Roman Hamrlik on the boards in front of the penalty box and came down on the wrong end of Hamrlik's blows.
Both players wrestled and traded a few punches. Both received two minutes for roughing.
But that answered Laperriere's question.
"I got bumped around like I usually do," said Laperriere, a Montreal native. "That first penalty, that roughing, I took a couple of punches to the face and that kind of got me going. I knew I could take a hit.
"If I don't play that way, I'm not effective for my team."
Laperriere said he was "tired" but had fun being back on the ice with his teammates, picking up a win in front of his family and friends at the Bell Centre.
"I'm tired but I'm excited," Laperriere said. "It was just great to be with the boys for a big win."