The Flyers under new coach Craig Berube earned their first win against the Florida Panthers. The following game at home they lost 2-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes. There has been a pretty big turnaround in the time since former head coach Peter Laviolette was fired by the team after an 0-3 start. Laviolette led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 where they succumbed to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Berube, known as “Chief” to Flyers fans and players, looks to restore the former glory of the 70s when they were known as “The Broad Street Bullies”, winners of back to back Stanley Cups.
Before Berube took it over, it seemed as though very few players were buying into the old system. The only players who were performing well were captain Claude Giroux, Vincent Lecavlier (who is now injured) and Zac Rinaldo. If there has been a bright spot for the team since, it remains those three players as well as the penalty kill, where the team has killed off 78.8 percent of the penalties (18th in the league). With an unpredictable line-up, Berube was forced into making changes to the lineup. One player we must think isn’t living up to expectations is Claude Giroux; he hadn’t registered a single point until the game against Detroit with an assist.
The first order of business, Berube called up Tye McGinn and Michael Raffl from the AHL. He then switched up the defense by pairing new Flyer Mark Streit with Erik Gustafsson. The defense didn’t thrive with the aging Kimmo Timonen, who always seems to take a lazy penalty (tripping, hooking, slashing, etc). With these lineup changes, the team seemed to have more energy. McGinn was immediately moved up to the top forward line with Giroux and Jakub Voracek accompanying McGinn on the wing. The second forward line had the aforementioned newcomer Michael Raffl with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
The front office also got into the mix, or so it seems. There was speculation of a possible trade between the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers as the Oilers scratched Nail Yakapov and the Flyers scratched Andrej Meszaros in turn. Though the scratch could be for rest it seems early for that so perhaps there was an idea for a trade – speculating, but perhaps the Flyers trading Braydon Coburn to Edmonton?
There was also speculation that the Coburn trade could have happened at the NHL draft as Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren spoke with Oilers General Manager Craig McTavish. Keep in mind that it could have been a pick swap. Whatever the case, clearly Berube does not have the pieces to the play his style of chess match, and that falls on the GM’s shoulder.
With what occurred in Detroit (losing 5-2 by taking horrible and lazy penalties) a couple of games back, many flyers fans including myself feel like the GM should be fired. When Berube came in I expected a lot more physicality, seeing as he is 7th all time in penalty minutes. With these last few games I’m still seeing the team improve offensively, but I only see two players working well defensively and that’s the aforementioned Gustafsson and Luke Schenn. Where is the grit we were promised?
The most important steps to take are to tighten up the team’s discipline and to fix the back-end. It can’t be understated the importance of getting Giroux back on track. With Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavlier being injured the team has lost two offensive weapons for a few weeks. I knew with the firing the changes wouldn’t occur right away. My biggest question is when will the right ones, the impacting ones, happen?
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