It has been quite a week for the Flyers’ organization with many things changing in the past three days including a new head coach, new line formations, and their first win of the season. The most dramatic of the three, of course, was Peter Laviolette’s release from the team. Although his job was definitely in question at the beginning of the season, I do not think anyone was expecting him to be replaced before the Flyers had the opportunity to make (or miss) the play-offs. However, under their new head coach, the Flyers got their first win of the season last night, even with some different lines playing together for the first time this season.
Let’s start with the Flyers’ new coach, Craig Berube. Laviolette is succeeded by one of his assistant coaches, which is not a total surprise since the Flyers have been known to promote from within. Berube was a tough player, and now he seems to be a tough coach. Earning the nickname of “Chief”, Berube is a serious, determined, and no-nonsense kind of guy. He wants the Flyers to work harder to strengthen their blue line in order to help the team’s offense. How has this change in commander affected the players? Giroux said just getting the “look” from Berube was enough to know you did something wrong, a feature that may motivate some young Flyers to leave it all out there on the ice. Regarding Laviolette’s exit, Coburn has been quoted saying that many players feel responsible for the firings of Laviolette and assistant coach McCarthy. There definitely appears to be a sense of accountability on behalf of their former coach but hopefully the players will find a new sense of commitment to their new leader.
In Berube’s first game as coach, he switched up the lines a little bit. He moved Wayne Simmonds to the top line with Giroux and Hartnell, which forced Voracek down to the second line with Lecavalier and Schenn. This is an interesting move considering the chemistry Simmonds and Lecavalier built during training camp, and the momentum Giroux and Voracek had coming in from last season. However, neither of these two lines proved to be extremely successful in the first three games this season, so I guess a change had to be made. I am excited to see Simmonds and Hartnell, two traditionally aggressive players, on the top line with Giroux. I am not sure how well Lecavalier and Voracek will play together in the future, but it is an interesting switch-up from the new coach. The defensive pairs were also mixed up with Timonen and Schenn playing together, Coburn with Grossman, and Streit with Meszaros. Who knows if Berube will keep these lines for the next couple games or not, but the slight changes he made must have had a least some impact to lead the Flyers to their first victory.
Finally, the last thing that has changed for the Flyers in the past three days is they finally got their first win of the season! Mason had a strong performance in the net including fighting off four minutes of 4-5 play in favor of the Panthers. Although the defense helped a lot in that penalty kill, Mason deserves some credit for saving 33 shots with a .971 save percentage for the game. The first win this season should be seen as a fresh start for the team who missed the play-offs last season and has had a rough beginning to this season.
Under a new head coach and some new line formations, the Flyers can hopefully turn this season around. I hope to see the Flyers at the end of this season, and to be honest, I was a little worried considering the start of this season. The team definitely needed to make a change, although I am still surprised they decided to fire Leviolette so soon. Hopefully, Berube will be the change the team needs. The Flyers are back on the ice this Friday, October 11 at 7 pm when they face the Phoenix Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.