Since being acquired from the Colorado Avalanche, Steve Downie has posted two goals and 10 assists in 28 games for the Flyers. (AP)
NEW YORK – Ever since his mysterious upper-body injury last month against Columbus, Steve Downie has not been the same player on the ice.
The passion hasn’t been there. He takes shifts off.
Flyers coach Craig Berube was a tad more specific.
“His intensity level isn’t high enough on a shift-to-shift basis,” Berube said Sunday morning at an optional skate in which Downie joined most of his teammates late.
Downie will sit tonight against the Rangers while Jay Rosehill re-enters the lineup after a three-game absence as a healthy scratch.
Berube said Downie needs to rediscover that intensity level.
“He has to play on the edge, but without being undisciplined,” Berube said,
Downie took a slashing penalty early in Saturday’s matinee 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the game, as well.
Berube insists Downie is healthy. Downie wavered and indicted he’s healthy enough to play, but not feeling optimal either.
When Downie joined the Flyers in November after a trade from Colorado, he had seven assists in 10 games. Since the start of December, however, he’s tailed off considerably – a goal and three assists in 17 games.
Downie said Berube did not speak to him either today or Saturday.
Told he was being benched for a lack of intensity, Downie replied: “I’ve never had that problem in my career before. I don’t think it’s going to be a tough fix.”
Berube used call-up Tye McGinn in Downie’s spot with Sean Couturier and Vinny Lecavalier after Valttieri Filippula broke a 3-3 tie at 15:41 of the second period.
On the goal, Downie was more of a passenger than a participant.
Asked if his upper-body injury is still holding him back, Downie replied: “I’m not going to make excuses. I haven’t played my best hockey, that’s obvious.
“Whether it’s intensity or not, I haven’t played well. You just got to come to work and work hard every day. Battle when you battle. It is what it is.”
Asked if he felt sluggish, he laughed, then paused.
“I feel all right, I’m okay, good, I’m not sluggish though,” he replied. “I feel good, but definitely not feeling great. Obvious reasons. It comes down to playing hard again. I got to find my game again.”
Asked if he were still dealing with this same injury, he replied: “A couple issues, but it’s not an excuse.”
Ray Emery will be in net tonight against the Rangers. … Matt Read (concussion) did drills with teammates but refused to talk to the media, deferring questions to general manager Paul Holmgren. … Erik Gustafsson (knee sprain) skated and seems fine.