Skate Update: Flyers’ D pairings, lines shuffled

Skate Update: Flyers’ D pairings, lines shuffled

October 8, 2013, 1:15 pm
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In his first practice as head coach, Craig Berube shuffled the Flyers' top three lines and defensive pairings. (USA Today Images)

New coach Craig Berube doesn’t believe the Flyers’ failings can be attributed to something as simple as the old coach’s message no longer getting through.

“I think there has to be more than that,” Berube said. “Going back to last year and stuff, we need to make some changes within the system and the mindset of the team.”

As such, there were some notable changes instituted at Tuesday’s morning skate -- in addition to its added length and situational practice.

First up: the defense. Berube switched up the Flyers’ D pairings to look a whole lot more like last year’s. Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn were a pair; Mark Streit and Andrej Meszaros were together; Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann were back as a unit.

“I didn’t see much from the pairings that were going on, so I made some changes with what I thought,” Berube said.  “Coby and Grossy is a shutdown pair, and Streit and Meszaros can both move the puck real well, and I thought that Kimmo and Schenner were good last year together.”

Coburn, who had been in a pairing with Timonen more recently, is at ease with the changes.

“I feel comfortable with all the guys we have on our back end,” Coburn said. “I think we’ve got a lot of good mobility and guys that are physical guys out there too, so I think that helps.”

On offense, Berube promoted Wayne Simmonds to the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, and had Vinny Lecavalier with Brayden Schenn and Jake Voracek. But it was the third line of Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Max Talbot that he seemed most excited about.

“Up front, we hadn’t scored a lot of goals so I just mixed them up a little bit,” Berube said. “I’ve always liked Couturier, Read and Talbot, I’ve thought they’ve been a good line before.”

Who deserves blame?
Despite rumors and reports of friction between Peter Laviolette and his team, the Flyers were sorry to see their coach go.

Even further, they’re well aware that they likely deserve a fair share of the blame for his departure.

“A lot of the onus is on us players, too,” Scott Hartnell said. “We didn’t have a great start, preseason was bad, and our scorers haven’t been scoring. It’s unfortunate that someone has to take the fall, but we need to look in the mirrors ourselves and then realize that a big part of it was probably us.”

Coburn said the players "absolutely" feel responsible for Laviolette's firing and the team's second consecutive 0-3 start.

"I think anytime the team’s not winning, the players, we definitely feel it’s our responsibility to go out there and win the games," he said.

Tim vs. Steve
In net today for the Florida Panthers will be Tim Thomas. Suiting up against him for the home team will be Steve Mason.

Berube, unlike Laviolette, doesn’t like to confirm these things in person -- but Mason was the first goalie off the ice after the morning skate, a regular predictor of the goaltender awarded starting duties on a given night.

Mason has played well, but the matchup could be tough for the Flyers. Thomas is 8-0-0 in his career playing in Philadelphia. He has a 1.86 goals-against average in those eight games.

No nerves
Berube says he's not at all nervous for Tuesday's coaching debut. In fact, he's pretty confident players are far more nervous for their first games than he is for tonight.

"I’m all right," Berube said. "I got confidence in our team. I believe they’re good players and I believe we’ll become a good team at some point. I’m excited more than anything. Real excited."