PHILADELPHIA – There have been a lot of buzzwords around the Flyers during this run of good play that has made the rounds.
Skating. Yep, that’s important.
Play without the puck. The key to good defense, gotcha.
Accountability – Players have jobs and roles and they are being held responsible for them, which brings a certain amount of pride in your work because you are doing what you’re told.
Repetition – Have you been to a Craig Berube practice? It plays like shampoo directions: Rinse, wash, repeat.
Consistency – Ahh, there’s an interesting one. Let’s delve into this one shall we?
Consistency can easily be described as playing at the same quality level night in and night out – and that wouldn’t be wrong.
But, the consistency we’re going for here is needs a synonym, so how about familiarity?
See, Berube wants his players to grow comfortable with one another, so he believes in keeping them together.
It’s why a player like Michael Raffl, who was playing well before getting sick and coming out of the lineup can’t get back in – because the fourth line has been excellent when on the ice together.
Meanwhile, Claude Giroux’s line remains intact, Vinny Lecavalier is starting to get some nice chemistry with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, and if you haven’t seen everyone gushing over the Sterve Downie-Sean Couturier-Matt Read line, where you been?
But maybe even more important has been the consistency of the defensive pairings.
For eight games now, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn have been back together. They seem to have had more reunions than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
However, that’s mostly because they are a pairing that works. They complement each other so well with their combination of skating, vision and responsibility.
“Sometimes it’s best not to mess around and go with something that you know works,” Berube said. “They work very well together because there’s a puck mover there and a bigger guy. Actually, if you look, that’s what we have on all three pairs right now and I’m pretty happy with it.”
The second pair has a tandem of Nick Grossmann and Mark Streit while the third pairing of Erik Gustafsson and Luke Schenn has come on strong after sitting in the press box for three straight games while Andrej Meszaros and Hal Gill filled in.
“We complement each other pretty well too,” said Gustafsson about Schenn after being told about the history of the Coburn-TImonen pairing. “We take it shift by shift. Kimmo and Coburn played with each other for a long time before [this reunion]. That’s why they have such good chemistry and play against the top forwards.
“When we got back in the lineup, me and Luke said to each other, 'Let’s not be tentative, let’s play our game.’ We’ve been doing that and so far it’s been good.”
So good in fact that at even strength, the Flyers have allowed just one goal in the last six games. Let that sink in for a minute.
If the Flyers could just play with more discipline and limit opposing power play chances, scoring on them could be a nightmare.
And that’s a dream the Flyers wouldn’t mind weaving for their opponents on a nightly basis.
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