VOORHEES, N.J. –There were a few things Craig Berube wanted to make perfectly clear on his first day as the Flyers coach.
The team needs to play better without the puck. Got it.
The team needs to forecheck smarter to prevent chances the other way – Work in progress, but got it.
Oh, and the fact that he put a third line back together featuring Max Talbot, Sean Couturier and Matt Read was something he really liked.
We definitely got that point after watching Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Florida.
That trio was, in fact, the best line for the Flyers in the game. Those three, along with Claude Giroux, did all the heavy lifting up front (with some help from the defense and goalie Steve Mason behind them) on the penalty kill as they turned aside all five Florida attempts, including a four-minute power play in the third period in which the Flyers ended up outshooting the Panthers.
Berube talked further about the trio today, saying that the reason they work together is because they are all quite similar.
Most coaches try to split up like-minded players to bring diversity to lines, but Berube believes there’s a lot to like about that trio because of how diverse they are.
|Craig Berube feels Sean Couturier will flourish in his old role now that he's back in it again. |
“They all think the game the same way,” Berube said. “They’re very smart players who are reliable and positionally sound. They make good decisions without the puck and are able to provide the stabilizing game we need on the defensive side of the ice.”
But that’s not all.
“Don’t forget, these guys can score too,” Berube said. “Read is a good offensive player and Sean and Max have proven they can find the net too.”
Which is why Berube plans on playing them often against the top lines of other teams – to both act as a shutdown combination and to take advantage of an offensive grouping to try and put the puck in the net.
The key to the combo though is Couturier, who Berube feels will flourish now that he’ll be put more into the role he succeeded in two years ago.
“I always thought that’s what he was best at,” Berube said. “You saw it at the end of the season and in the Pittsburgh series when he hounded [Evgeni] Malkin. That’s who he is. He can score playing this way (he had a hat trick against the Pens in the playoffs). I just think he looks really comfortable in the role.”
And that’s the goal for the Flyers right now, finding comfort spots for some players who aren’t quite… well… comfortable.
Jake Voracek has bounced around, Brayden Schenn has bounced around. Claude Giroux has been on the top line but has had three different right wings in four games.
Berube’s goal is to create some continuity and understanding for each player as to what that role is.
This is also where assistant coaches John Paddock and, maybe more to a point Ian Laperriere, come in.
Laperriere is always talking about a player needing to “find his chair.” By that he means there are 23 chairs in a locker room and each one represents a different role for team success and that it’s up to the players to find the one that suits them best.
Couturier’s chair, in Craig Berube’s system, will be that of a two-way center. Read’s will be that of the versatile forward who can play anywhere and everywhere and still be productive. Talbot’s is to be a grinder who tends to be more of a defensive specialist but who has the ability to sneak up on you and score between 15 and 20 goals.
Berube wants guys to grow comfortable with one another and not keep changing roles.
And as he searches for those combinations, he feels he has at least one that will work in Talbot-Couturier-Read.
Now to figure out the rest…
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37