The Philadelphia Flyers fired coach Peter Laviolette after a loss last Sunday to the Carolina Hurricanes. They promoted Craig Berube to head coach. Since then, they are 1-2-0, as they beat the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, but lost to the Phoenix Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings, and have scored just five goals in that span. Berube wants to institute a more defensively conscious system, with emphasis on positional play, puck support, all while playing an uptempo, skating heavy game. So far under Berube, the team has had a bit more jump than they showed in the first three games under Laviolette, but that extra life has yet to translate to more than two goals in a game and, more importantly, more than one win. Then again, it has only been three games and there are six months left to the season, so a lot can change in that time. Lest we forget that Laviolette went 2-7-1 in his first 10 games with the team back in 2009-2010.
A disappointing bit of news this week: the Flyers will be without two of their top forwards in Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier. Hartnell will be out 2-4 weeks with an upper body injury and Lecavalier will be out a week with a lower body injury. In their places, Tye McGinn and Michael Raffl have been recalled from the Adirondack Phantoms, and both had strong first games of the season. Mcginn of course scoring the Flyers’ second goal yesterday, did not seem out of place on the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, while Raffl helped create offense and was strong on the puck, as he skated on a line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
This week the Flyers have just two games as they host the Vancouver Canucks and the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of a short, three game home stand. Remember, you can get tickets to all Flyers games here: http://www.tiqiq.com/nhl/philadelphia-flyers-tickets/?publisherid=1260333
10.15.2013 Vancouver Canucks at 7:00 PM in Philadelphia
The Vancouver Canucks have stumbled out to a 3-3-0 start under John Tortorella. They haven’t lost a game while scoring three or more goals, but in every loss, they’ve scored only one goal. The Canucks have a ton of offensive talent led by the Daniel (two goals, five assists) and Henrik (one goal, six assists) Sedin, who each have seven points. Defenseman Jason Garrison has continued his strong offensive presence as he has two goals and four assists for six points. Center Mike Santorelli leads the Canucks with four goals to date. If their other forwards David Booth, Ryan Kesler, and Alexandre Burrows get going, the Canucks could once again be a very dangerous team, but they need to give goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack more support in order to be successful. The Flyers will have to make life difficult for the Sedin twins and get pucks to the back of the net to have any chance at getting two points in this game.
10.17.2013 Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:00 PM in Philadelphia
The Pittsburgh Penguins look to be at the top of class in the Metropolitan Division as they’ve jumped out to a 4-1-0 start. They have scored 20 goals while letting in just 13. Sidney Crosby is leading the team with nine points (five goals, four assists), including a hat trick last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jussi Jokinen (three goals, two assists), Evgeni Malkin (one goal, four assists), and Matt Niskanen (one goal, four assists) each have five points. While Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz both have potted a puck and helped on three others for four points. The Penguins are a deeply talented team that is well-coached. They also made a move to shore up the defense by signing Rob Scuderi in the offseason. Marc-Andre Fleury has won every game he’s started, boasting a 4-0-0 record, one by way of white wash, a 1.75 goals against average, and a gaudy .930 save percentage. His backup, Jeff Zatkoff started in the team’s only loss, allowing six goals and completing his first NHL game with a .800 save percentage. The Flyers have typically played well against the Penguins the last few seasons, but that was under Laviolette who just seemed to know how to get his team up for those games. We’ll have to see if Berube can get this team to that same level.