By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — He wore that same squinting, beady-eyed look he had as a player, because it was almost as if new Flyers coach Craig Berube was out there playing. He carried that same intensity he did as a player.
Now only if his team can match that intensity, how he played.
Berube understands this is going to be a process to turn the Flyers around from their rough start, but Tuesday was a nice beginning, beating the Florida Panthers, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.
It marked the first victory of the Flyers season, making them 1-3. Though many of the same problems that cost Peter Laviolette his job after just three games were very present in Berube’s first.
Berube came in a changed up his lines. He switched his defensive pairings. And he received a nice effort—as opposed to some of the lackluster play the Flyers shown the first three games.
The Flyers had issues in the third period. Their powerplay was 0-for-8, bringing the Flyers’ inept powerplay to 2-for-22 this season.
When he announced that he got the job, Berube spoke about playing better without the puck and stressed the powerplay has to improve.
The Flyers have had to rely quite heavily on goalie Steve Mason, who made 33 saves against Florida, which has yet to score on the powerplay this season.
“At times I did [see improvement without the puck], and at times I didn’t,” Berube said. “We still have to get a lot better, obviously. We gave them some real good opportunities and Mase came up big for us. It’s a learning thing and we have to get better at it. The powerplay has to get better. Just offensively we have to get better. We have to have more of an attack. But when you’re better at your own end, and you get out of your end quicker, you’re down in their end more.”
They did some things differently under Berube, who wanted to implement a team defense, taking out the middle of the ice and gathering around the net each time Florida had the puck. They played better in the latter part of the third period.
Claude Giroux still remains without a point this season. The Flyers star, who Laviolette once called “the best player in the world” two years ago during the playoffs when the Flyers ousted Pittsburgh, has not exactly been close to what was envisioned for him two years ago. In four games, his plus-minus is minus-2.
“Change is never easy,” Scott Hartnell said. “We battled hard and we played for each other. Our powerplay was off again. We had some shots, but a lot of perimeter shots. It was good for Chief to get the first one for him.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.