Flyers beat Panthers under new coach
Maybe this would've happened anyway had Peter Laviolette still been behind the Flyers bench rather than Craig Berube. We'll never know.
After all, the Flyers were due and the Florida Panthers had the worst record in the league last season and are still considered among the weakest teams in the NHL.
So don't read too much into Tuesday night's 2-1 Flyers win, especially since for the better part of the night the Flyers were outplayed. Thanks to a couple of soft goals given up by usual-Flyers nemesis Tim Thomas in the first eight minutes — before he left for the night with an injury — coupled with spectacular net-minding by Steve Mason, the Berube era is off to a good start.
"At times we played great, but there are still some things to improve on," said Berube, as the Flyers avoided their first 0-4 start in team history. "It's a learning thing and we've got a ways to go. You could see the players were squeezing their sticks, bearing down trying to score. But overall we had a great effort. But this is just one win and there's plenty of games left in the season.''
Presumably, somewhere along the way, the Flyers will look more effective than they have so far this season. The attack still seems sporadic, with both Brayden Schenn and defemseman Braydon Coburn's goals 2:42 coming with Thomas out of position.
Meanwhile, captain Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Max Talbot and Matt Read have yet to register a single point. But, thanks to strong penalty killing and Mason in net, they're finally off the schneid.
"We saw that at the end of last year and he's been playing great so far this year," said Schenn, who leads the Flyers with two goals. "He made some key saves in there. It could have been a different hockey game if he didn't have the game that he had."
The 25-year-old Mason turned aside 33 shots, including a second-period, short-handed breakaway, to preserve the win.
"Part of the position is coming up big on key opportunities," said Mason, who has started three of the four games with Ray Emery starting the other. "At the end of the first period there were a couple saves there that needed to be made in order to preserve the lead.
"Moving forward it's something to build off. Right now there's going to be a learning curve just because of the new things that Chief [Berube] is putting in. It's a new system and things aren't going to be coming easy right away. So it was something I was prepared for."
In other words, the Craig Berube Flyers won't be built in a day. For one night they could finally leave the rink happy heading home.