The Flyers were bleeding, but Berube wasn't hired Oct. 7 to be just a Band-Aid. Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren turned to Berube, the team's longtime assistant coach, to change the style and the approach not just for this season, but ideally for years to come.
Philadelphia was an up-tempo, run-and-gun team under Laviolette, but that style ran its course after the 2011-12 season. The Flyers didn't make the playoffs last season, when they were ninth in goals-for (2.75 per game) but 23rd in goals-against (2.90 per game). They slept through training camp and were outscored 9-3 in their first three games, all regulation losses.
Berube's focus is more on the defensive end. His job was to turn the Flyers into more of a defensive-oriented team, with the hope they could find a way to turn their strong defense into puck possession and scoring chances.
The players bought in right away, but it took until mid-November before Berube's system started to produce consistently positive results.
The Flyers were 4-10-1 and had a minus-20 goal differential through Nov. 7; they are 34-16-6 since with a plus-26 goal differential.
A big reason for the Flyers’ success is the resurgence of Claude Giroux, who had seven points, all assists, through the first 15 games, but is now fifth in the NHL in scoring with 74 points, including 24 goals, in 71 games. However, it can be argued Giroux has had such a massive turnaround this season because of the way the entire team has bought into Berube's defense-first ways.
"There's a reason why it's a team game; you need all 20 guys on the team to show up every night if you want to get some wins," Giroux said. "We have done a good job lately. Everyone is contributing. All four lines are rolling, playing good. When we have everybody going, that's when we play our best."
The players, though, didn't have much of a choice but to buy in and believe in Berube. If they didn't, they wouldn't play. That's Berube's style too.
He's honest, brutally at times, and has no problems telling a player exactly where he stands. Berube's players respect him even more for that.
"He's very honest, and that helps a lot," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "Every time I have a conversation with me he's honest with me. He'll say, 'You played like crap,' or 'You played good.' There's no in between. That's how he gained respect; he's honest with everyone and he doesn't change with different players."
If you asked Rangers fans in October what they thought of their new coach, they'd have told you Vigneault was public enemy No. 1 and should have been fired before he got to coach his first game at MSG. They wanted John Tortorella back. They thought they were sold a bill of goods on Vigneault.
Their reaction was obviously swift and emotional, but the Rangers absolutely were scuffling, especially on the defensive end, to the point that they gave up 20 goals over three road games against the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues from Oct. 8-12. They opened the season with nine straight road games and went 3-6-0.
But the ghastly goals-against average had as much to do with Henrik Lundqvist's struggles as it did with the Rangers trying to buy into Vigneault's system. Clearly, he didn't forget how to do his job. He's the same coach who took the Vancouver Canucks to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011; the same coach who led the Canucks to the Presidents' Trophy in back-to-back seasons (2010-12).
Hindsight is always 20/20, but what's obvious now should have been talked about earlier in the season -- the Rangers needed time to adjust to Vigneault, who is basically the polar opposite of Tortorella in his demeanor and coaching style.
"Anytime there is a coaching change or management change, it's always going to be a feeling-out process," Rangers forward Derek Dorsett said. "We're playing the way he [Vigneault] wants us to play. If we keep doing that, we'll be fine."
The Rangers improved after the nine-game road trip, got above .500 by the midway point (20-19-2), and then went 12-5-1 and allowed 2.12 goals per game in 17 games from Jan. 3 until the NHL went on break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The Rangers slumped earlier this month, but picked it right back up and have won four in a row and five of their past six games, including a 4-3 come-from-behind, overtime victory against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.
Lundqvist has gotten much better and is again playing the way he did for years under Tom Renney and Tortorella. The defense as a whole got tighter and more disciplined in front of him as the Rangers adopted a swarming, pressuring, quick-transition style.
It helped that Vigneault found four lines that worked and has been rolling them with minimal changes, something that rarely happened under Tortorella. Until recently, their power play was among the best in the NHL; it was among the worst under Tortorella.
"We got to know him, and he got to know us," Rangers center Derick Brassard said. "I guess we just bought in to the way he wanted us to play. We play well as a team. If you do that for the rest of the season, we're going to have some success."