TAMPA, Fla. - As the Flyers players and coaches flew back to Philadelphia after last night's game and hopped in their cars to go their separate ways for the Christmas holiday, they did so without their head coach.
Peter Laviolette was already home.
Since accepting the job to become the Flyers' 17th head coach on Dec. 4, Laviolette had not seen his family until yesterday. He has been living in a hotel - along with new assistant coach Kevin McCarthy - near the Flyers' practice rink in Voorhees, N.J.
The NHL has a league mandated 48-hour break in the schedule for both games and practices over the Christmas holiday.
Laviolette, 45, had been commuting from his home near Sarasota, Fla., to Toronto for his television analyst work with TSN before being hired by the Flyers.
"It's pretty nice how that all worked out with the schedule," Laviolette said last week. "I have barely had any time at the hotel, I've spent most of my time here at the rink working on putting everything in place. I take an hour during the day to get lunch or something to eat and then I have been right back at the rink."
Laviolette said that his oldest son, Peter, is still bitter that his dad is no longer coaching his 12-year-old pee-wee hockey team. He will enjoy spending time with younger son Jack (10), daughter Elisabeth (8) and wife Kristen.
He probably slept a little easier, knowing that the Flyers put together their best period with the game on the line last night on Florida's Gulf Coast.
"I thought the third period was probably our best period that we've played, better than the first," Laviolette said. "It's a very small step. We've got to follow it up with a bunch of big steps. It's coming slow. There are times when I think we look good, there are times when I don't. But the most important thing was getting the win."
Laviolette will fly to Philadelphia tomorrow night to accompany the team on Saturday morning. The Flyers will have a rare day-of-game flight that morning for their matchup with the Hurricanes. Laviolette is no stranger to that city, either, having captured the 2006 Stanley Cup with Carolina.
There is a chance that Brian Boucher may be able to return for the game in Carolina. He did not make the trip for last night's game.
"I was told that in 2-3 days that I would feel better," he said from Philadelphia. "The pain is starting to subside a bit. I am shooting for right after Christmas that I will be good enough to play.
"Basically the puck hit it and it split the finger wide open. It is a pretty good cut that required stitches. Right now it is just a matter of it being wrapped up and trying to get it to heal up. It is throbbing pretty good still."
Michael Leighton got the start last night for the Flyers, his first in the NHL since Nov. 30 as a member of the Hurricanes.
Finally healthy, Darroll Powe was inserted into the Flyers lineup last night, pushing Riley Cote and Mika Pyorala to the press box as healthy scratches.
Powe centered a line with James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham; Powe had missed the previous 16 games.
"This was the longest I have ever been out," Powe said. "I had a concussion last year and missed a few weeks, but this is the longest I've had on a body part that kept me out. I'm antsy to get out there and see how I fit in [under Laviolette]."