Snider blasts Flyers over 'pathetic' effort
After Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Devils, Flyers head coach Craig Berube shuffled his lines again in practice Friday. (USA Today Images)
Another day, another Flyers practice with a new set of lines.
Coach Craig Berube shuffled up his team’s offense again Friday, most notably adding Brayden Schenn and Matt Read to Claude Giroux’s top line, and putting Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds on Vinny Lecavalier's wing.
“Just trying to find some life and some spark offensively, and moving it around a bit,” Berube said. “Still got guys playing together that have been together for a while, though. Just trying to find some combinations that get some offense going.”
In each of the last five games, the Flyers’ lines have looked different from the lines in the game that preceded it. Things have been so bad, Berube hasn’t even seen anything that’s given him enough confidence to let chemistry develop over time.
“I’m not seeing what I want to see from it, so I mix it up,” he said. “I’d like to get some lines that have some chemistry right now and keep them together, but I haven’t seen that.”
Understandably, all the mixing and matching poses a challenge for the Flyers.
“Anytime you play with different players, you need to change your game a little bit,” Claude Giroux said. “But everybody’s played with almost everybody the last few years.”
He understands the urgent need for chemistry, however. Over their last five games, the Flyers have been outscored 12-2. They were shut out in each of their last two games at the Wells Fargo Center.
“We haven’t had chemistry the last few games,” Giroux said. “I think when we get a few goals, we’re going to relax a little bit, and that’s when we’re going to be able to make some plays.”
Why he left
Giroux left immediately after the players-only meeting that the Flyers held after Thursday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils. He did not address the media.
“I was frustrated,” Giroux said. “At myself, and how we’re playing.”
The Flyers had just 22 shots on net in Thursday’s 3-0 shutout loss. Giroux had only two shots on net and finished the game with a minus-1 rating.
Steve Downie practiced again with the Flyers on Friday, the first full practice he’s participated in since the concussion he sustained in Nov. 1’s 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals.
Downie, of course, spent two nights in the hospital following that game. He took part in Thursday’s morning skate, but those practices are lighter and don’t allow for contact.
This is all encouraging, of course, but Downie will not be ready to return when the Flyers host the Edmonton Oilers Saturday afternoon.
“No [he won't play Saturday]," Berube said. "[Friday was] his first time on the ice, really."
How to win battles
When he talked about the Flyers’ struggles Friday, chairman Ed Snider referenced the team’s inability to so much as win battles along the boards (see story).
He also said he was sure Berube was working hard to rectify such issues.
But how can the Flyers’ coach do so?
“Just stay on it,” Berube said. “Keep pushing. It’s a confidence thing too, battles. They’ve got to understand that they’ve got to play desperate hockey for 60 minutes and if they do that, they’ll probably get good results.”
The players know that the way they’ve looked lately is unacceptable. But it seems they believe the only way to get past it is to simply work through it.
“Just play hockey,” Giroux said. “It’s the same story every day. Just got to enjoy the game. Obviously it’s hard to enjoy the game when you’re playing like we are playing right now, but we need to enjoy it a little bit more. We go to games, and when you do one bad shift or one bad power play and the crowd starts booing, you put a little more pressure and you want to do even more.
“I think we need to just play the game.”
No rule needed
On Tuesday, the NHL’s general managers will meet to discuss a possible new rule regarding goaltender-initiated fights like the one Ray Emery had in that aforementioned blowout loss to the Caps.
But the Flyers’ coach doesn’t believe any rule change is needed -- and perhaps not for the reason you might think.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen [a fight like] that in I don’t know how many years,” Berube said. “I don’t know how it’s an issue, to be honest with you.”