This wasn’t the Chicago Blackhawks or Boston Bruins in town for freshman skipper Craig Berube’s debut party, but you can’t choose your opponent. Instead it was the lowly Florida Panthers, a team coming off an embarrassing drubbing at the hands of the St. Louis Blues just a few days prior. And if not for the heroics for one 6’4″ Flyers netminder we might be talking about an 0-4 Flyers squad. Luckily, however, the hockey gods were kind tonight and the good guys managed to pull off a 2-1 victory for Craig Berube’s inaugural victory as head man.
But the best part about this much-needed win wasn’t just that it put the club at 1-3, it was that this group of players actually looked like a cohesive unit for the first time since the end of last season; a team was visible. There were mistakes at times, just like any game, but the orange and black persevered.
I’m not going to say Peter Laviolette is a bad coach, because he obviously isn’t; he’s got the Stanley Cup to prove it. But most coaches have a short shelf-life and now was the time for ‘Lavy’ to move on. His message had grown stale. His players weren’t responding. It happened with Ken Hitchcock; John Stevens; Mike Keenan; Hell, it’ll happen to Craig Berube It’s the life of a hockey coach.
And believe me, I’m not saying Berube was the sole reason the Flyers pulled off the victory (Mason’s 33 saves had something to do with it), but sometimes a team just.needs a new voice. And tonight, in a game the franchise desperately needed, it was the “Chief’s” voice who was loudest in the locker-room.
After goals by Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn, the Flyers look to move closer to respectability on Friday night when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes at home. And if they play with the same grit, determination, and “jam” that they showed against Florida then Berube may soon overtake Chip Kelly as the talk of the town.