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Peter Laviolette’s 800th Win Was Far From Easy

The New York Rangers edged out the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 in overtime for Peter Laviolette‘s 800th win in the National Hockey League. Tuesday night’s showdown between the two rivals provided all of the dramatics. From numerous lead changes to unexpected goal-scorers, this one was a roller-coaster, to say the least. As pointed out in a previous article, it was once again a slow start for New York. It was not until that favoured middle frame that the scoring got started. Back and forth they went until it was time for overtime. Adam Fox put the game on his stick and ripped a wrister past Flyer goaltender Samuel Ersson. His 15th goal of the season ended the “game of all games” which led to a few milestones.

Peter Laviolette’s 800th Win Helps Hit the Centurion Mark for Playoff-Bound Rangers

First of all, the Rangers became the first team this season to reach the 100-point mark. Furthermore, New York was the first organization to clinch a spot in the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Finally, Peter Laviolette was the seventh coach in NHL history to reach 800 wins. The emotions were running high behind the Rangers bench, as Laviolette celebrated with his staff. An emphatic handshake with Associate Coach Phil Housley, followed by congrats from both Michael Peca and Dan Muse capped off what was a monumental night for the Franklin, MA native. Here’s a look at Laviolette’s impact throughout the 2023-24 season thus far.

Laviolette Has Helped Propel the Blueshirts Success Thus Far

If you were searching for goals, Tuesday night was your best-case scenario. In a game that was 2-1 Flyers entering the third period, eight goals would follow, including Fox’s winner in overtime. New York was aware of the scenarios at stake before the start of Tuesday’s tilt. It might not have been the prettiest of wins, but it was the perfect way for Laviolette and his team to achieve these milestones. Clinching a playoff spot or earning a landmark win does not hit the same when you crush a team 5-0. Sure, it is better for the goaltender and their stats, but you want it to be a hard-fought victory. That is what we got on Tuesday.

In an all-time coaching battle, Laviolette took on his former team and a former Blueshirt leader in John Tortorella. As a note, Tortorella sits two spots behind Laviolette on the NHL’s all-time head coaching wins list at 740. Early in the second, it was almost as if the Rangers were being outcoached by the man known as “Torts.” Whenever the Rangers defencemen would pinch, Torts left a forward at the top of the blue line. Hoping to catch a breakaway, this tactic worked twice on Philadelphia’s goals from Travis Konecny and Owen Tippett.

The Rangers responded each time and tried to keep leads. Even a short-handed goal from Vincent Trocheck was not enough to keep a lead. Whatever the Rangers did, Philly had the perfect response. The way the third period played out, it was destined for overtime. Fox’s overtime winner improves New York’s record to 8-1 in games decided by the extra five-minute period (before going into shootout that is).

All that was left was jubilation from the entire team, including the head coach. Not many talk about his emotions on the bench and in the locker room and how that alone is a deciding factor.

Laviolette: An All-Time Motivator

After Tortorella, many of the Rangers head coaches seemed more stoic. Alain Vigneault was all business, David Quinn was trying his best in his first tenure in the NHL, and Gerard Gallant was no-nonsense. Laviolette is a breath of fresh air for the players, fans, and media members. During his press conferences, Laviolette can be seen making sarcastic remarks that would get a few chuckles from fellow Rangers beat writers and reporters. Through the jokes, he still keeps his professionalism at an all-time high. Two moments have stood out and reiterated how much Laviolette means to his players.

The first example is the postgame speech after New York’s win over the Islanders in the Stadium Series. Praising the debut of Matt Rempe allowed his team to showcase their pure emotion after their memorable comeback win.

Finally, last night’s winner showed what it meant to Laviolette and his entire staff. Taking over a team in arguably the biggest sports market in the world is no easy task. Past head coaches have proved that the job is not for everyone. In his first season, Peter Laviolette is making it clear that he is ready for the task at hand.

New York is back in action on Thursday when they take on Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 p.m. local) on Thursday from Ball Arena.

Main photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


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