Tag Archives: Craig Berube

Simmonds and Mason Lead Flyers to Game 7

30 Apr

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Wayne Simmonds scored three goals to help the Flyers force Game 7 against the New York Rangers.

Wayne Simmonds scored three goals to help the Flyers force Game 7 against the New York Rangers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—On a whirlwind day in sports where the commissioner of the NBA banned the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for life for some ugly racist remarks, Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers excelled for his team in a sport in which few Black athletes play.

With his team facing elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Simmonds helped the Flyers prolong their season for at least one more game by scoring three goals in a 5-2 beat down of the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.

“(Simmonds) was all over the puck,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who scored on an empty-net goal in the third period. “I think when Wayne wants to win the battle, he wins it and kind of gives everybody in the room the motivation to do the same.”

Simmonds became the second Black player in the history of the NHL to score a hat trick in a playoff game. Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien accomplished the feat back in a playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.

More important than the social or societal significance of his accomplishment, Simmonds’ performance propelled the Flyers to a victory in an elimination game and pushed the opening round series to a seventh and deciding Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“We’re all the same color on the inside and we all have a common goal and that’s to go out there and get wins and that’s what we’re going to do,” Simmonds said. “That’s what we do every day.”

  Flyers goal tender Steve Mason saved 34 of 36 shots on goal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Flyers goal tender Steve Mason saved 34 of 36 shots on goal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Equally as good as Simmonds’ performance was that of goalie Steve Mason, who kept New York from scoring until the game was way out of reach. He had 34 saves against 36 shots. His tenacity along with  his teammates scoring has the Flyers one win away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs.

“Obviously, he played real well. He had a real good period in the first,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. “He gave his team a chance to come out of there a goal ahead. He’s a good goal tender.”

Giroux said Mason’s good start in goal got the Flyers going and set the tone for the entire game.

“It was impressive to see Mason play the way he played tonight. He’s been doing it all year,” Giroux said. “For him to do it in Game 6, it’s great. He was our leader tonight with the way he played tonight and his attitude. It was great to watch him work hard.”

Mason, who stopped 13 shots on goal in the first period, said getting the feel for the puck coming at him early was important for his overall confidence throughout the game. He a had a couple of early  glove saves.

“It’s always important to feel the puck early I find,” Mason said. “If you’re getting some big saves early in the game, it’s something to build off of for the rest of the game. I was able to make a couple of timely saves to start off the game. … It was nice to be busy early in the game.”

The Flyers got on the board first with a power-play goal by Simmonds who got a pass from Scott Hartnell. Simmonds rebounded his own shot and put it past Rangers goalie Henrik Lindqvist to give his team a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, the Flyers took command and punched their ticket to the Big Apple by scoring three goals in the period. Simmonds second goal of the game came off teammate Brayden Schenn’s stick. He then shot the puck past Lindqvist. That score put the Flyers up 2-0.

After the Flyers penalty kill squad and a  g00d glove save by Mason stopped a Rangers power-play opportunity, Erik Gustaffsson, who committed a high-sticking penalty, jumped out of the penalty box, took a pass from Braydon Coburn and scored on wrist-shot beneath Lunqvist’s pads to give his team a 3-0 lead.

Simmonds’ third goal of the game came on a power-play when he followed in a shot by Jakub Voracek to give his team an insurmountable 4-0 stranglehold that basically punched their ticket to New York for Game 7. The game was delayed for a few minutes to clear the hats off the ice.

“Obviously, it’s do or die, we win or we go home,” Simmonds said. “I think everybody in the dressing room did a good job preparing for the game. We’re not ready to go home yet. We want to move onto the second round. I thought we played a game good, but we gotta carry it over to (Wednesday) night.”

Flyer’s head coach Craig Berube is hoping to bottle his team’s Game 6 performance for Game 7. He likes his team’s chances despite being on the Rangers home ice for Game 7.

“Going back two or three years ago, we hadn’t won there,” Berube said. “Winning that game up there (in Game 2), we know we can win up there. It’s confidence. Our guys realize we can do it.”

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Emery and the Flyers Come up Short in Game 3 Loss to Rangers

23 Apr

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

It was tough night for Flyer goalie Ray Emery.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

It was tough night for Flyer goalie Ray Emery. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—It wasn’t a difficult decision for Flyers head coach Craig Berube to start Ray Emery in place of an injured Steve Mason.

After all, Emery had a strong effort in the Flyers Game-2 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden—the team’s first win at the world’s most famous arena since 2011.

“Ray’s played well and he’s coming off a big win,” Berube said before Tuesday’s Eastern Conference playoff game at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was too bad that Emery couldn’t stop the Rangers in Game 3 as New York dominated every phase of the game in a 4-1 win over the Flyers in front of a packed house of fans clad in orange.

New York now has a 2-1 lead in the best- of-seven NHL Eastern Conference First Round series and it also means the Flyers are in a must-win situation for Friday’s Game 4 at home.

Despite outshooting the Rangers 32-23, the Flyers couldn’t get anything past goalie Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves) except for a goal late in the first period by Mark Streit. That was also because the Rangers defense stuffed the Flyers offense for most of the game. New York blocked 28 shots and smothered them at every opportunity.

“I think you got to move the puck quicker than we are. I think it’s too predictable in what we’re doing with (Claude) Giroux and Timonen,” Berube said. “We had a lot of zone time with the puck. They did a good job with the puck, but we gotta get it to the net. If you don’t get it to the net, you’re not going to score. We gotta build deception here and there and get them through.”

Not getting enough scoring opportunities on the offensive end really manifested itself in the Flyers power play. The Flyers were 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

“We try to get the pucks through the net, especially on the power play,” said Flyers defenseman Kiimmo Timonen. “We gotta do it better. They blocked way too many shots and we gotta find away to do it better and do it quicker.”

Within the game’s first four minutes, Rangers center Derek Stepan scored the game’s first goal when he rebounded a shot by teammate Rick Nash that caromed off the left glove of Emery and into the net. About seven minutes later, Martin St. Louis put the puck past Emery to give New York a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.

Berube said Emery didn’t play a bad game and could have used more help from his defense. He also said falling into an early 2-0 hole hurt his team. Emery had 16 saves against 20 shots on goal before being pulled for Steve Mason in the third period. Berube did not say who was going to start in Game 4.

“I’m sure (Emery) wants a couple back, but he’s battled,” Berube said. “He gave us an opportunity going into the third period. … You can’t get down 2-0 in games like this. We gave ourselves an opportunity, but we need the better start.

The Flyers finally got on the board late in the opening stanza on a goal by a streaking Mark Streit, who took a pass from Jakub Voracek who was skating at the circle to the left of Lundqvist.

Despite outshooting the Rangers in the second period, the Flyers found themselves in a two-goal deficit thanks to a goal by New York defenseman Dan Girardi. The Rangers final goal of the game came on a score by former Flyers left winger Daniel Carcillo, who banged his stick on the glass near the Flyers goal and then stared at a fan.

Flyers Withstand Late Rally by Washington in 6-4 Win

6 Mar

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux scored two goals with one assist in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux scored two goals with one assist in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

—In Wednesday’s win over the Washington Capitals, the Flyers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two periods and appeared to be cruising to an easy win.  They came into the third period with a three-goal lead.

But then the Capitals woke up early in the third period and made things interesting by cutting the lead to one thanks to goals by right winger Alex Ovetchkin and Troy Brouwer. Jakub Voracek’s goal pushed the Flyers back to lead to 5-3 with a little over eight minutes left.

Just when the Flyers thought they had some breathing room, the Capitals closed the gap to within one with six minutes left on a power-play goal by center Brooks Laich who tipped in a shot by defenseman Mike Green.

Somehow by the skin of their collective teeth the Flyers withstood the furious Washington charge and came away with a 6-4 win in front of 19,919 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We were playing well in the first two periods,” said Claude Giroux, who scored two goals and assisted on another score. “In that third period, they became aggressive and we sat back a little bit. We have to make sure that when we get a lead like that we have to keep it.

Steve Downie’s empty-net goal sealed the deal for the Flyers, who improved their record to 33-25-6, in what was the final regular season game between the two bitter rivals.

Head coach Craig Berube didn’t like the way his team took the pedal off the gas after jumping out to a 4-0 lead, especially the penalties they took in the third period.

“I think we have to get better at playing full games on a more consistent basis,” Berube said. “We’re talking about being a more consistent hockey team, not getting too high, not getting too low. Just come out and play our game for 60 minutes.”

In that third period, Washington was 2-for-2 on the power-play and kept the pressure on the Flyers.  Berube said because the Flyers weren’t on the attack in the third, they became susceptible to penalties.

“In this game in the third period, we didn’t have the puck enough,” Berube said. “We compete in the offensive zone with the puck and we have to keep the puck. We try to wear teams down that way.”

Early in the game, it looked like the Flyers were ready to end the competitive portion of this game in the first two periods.  In the first period, they got goals from Giroux and Voracek, who also finished game with two goals, take an early 2-0 lead.

In the second, Giroux scored on an unassisted goal four minutes into the period. Mike Raffl’s goal gave the Flyers what appeared to be an insurmountable lead with 8:08 left in the second. The Capitals pulled goalie Braden Holtby for Phillip Grubauer.

Washington scored its first goal of the game on a goal by right winger Joel Ward with 6:54 left in the second and it appeared to be window dressing in what was looking to be a rout by the Flyers.

But then Ovechkin and the Capitals made things interesting and took advantage of the Flyers lackadaisical play to make things close.

“For two periods, we played an extremely good hockey game and you can’t let your foot off the gas in this league because teams are going to take advantage of it,” said goalie Steve Mason.

Flyers Bounce Back From Bad Loss to Upend the Rangers

2 Mar

 

By  Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—After getting blasted by the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, the Flyers had a good start, a shaky middle, and a strong finish to upend the New York Rangers 4-2 Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Wayne Simmonds scored a goal and assisted on another score in the Flyers 4-2 win over the New York Rangers.

Wayne Simmonds scored a goal and assisted on another score in the Flyers 4-2 win over the New York Rangers.

“I think our guys have good character,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “There’s three or four games like (the San Jose game) this year and we came back and had a real good game.  I was pretty confident that we would come out and play hard.”

Luke Schenn and Wayne Simmonds scored the game’s final two goals to break open a 2-2 tie to put the Flyers (31-24-6) to within a point of the Rangers (33-25-3) in the Metropolitan Division standings. It was Simmonds goal with 6:43 left in the second that put the Flyers on top for good. Schenn’s third-period score sealed it for the Flyers.

For the first five minutes, it looked like the Flyers were headed to a continuation of Thursday’s loss to the Sharks.  Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell committed a pair of penalties and gave a Rangers squad that knows how to score on the power-play two opportunities to put them in an early hole.

But on the both occasions, the Flyers killed the Rangers early power-play chances thanks to their defense and the goaltending of Steve Mason, who came up with some saves.

“It’s not the way you want to start a game because we’re setting ourselves back, but when you’re able to kill penalties against an extremely talented power-play in the first couple of minutes of the games, it was a good feeling moving forward,” said Mason, who finished the game with 33 saves.

Despite being outshot early in the game, the penalty kills fired up the Flyers offense midway through the opening period. First, Vincent Lecavalier scored a goal following up a shot at the point by Simmonds with 13:04 left in the period.

A little over a minute later, Sean Couturier scored the Flyers second goal on a breakaway after he took a pass from Matt Read at center ice to put his team up 2-0.  Simmonds said stopping the Rangers on the power-play got the Flyers offense going.

“We know that they have a great power-play, but our penalty kill has been great all year long,” said Simmonds, who had a goal and an assist in the game. “We take too many penalties as a team as it is and our penalty kill goes out there time after time and bails out of the situation. After that, we just want to get our legs going…we start rolling four lines and everything started clicking after that.”

In the second period, the Flyers experience a lull that enabled the Rangers to get back in the game.  The Rangers got on the board on a goal by left winger Chris Kreider. New York tied the game on a power-play goal by right winger Derick Brassard off a pass from center Brad Richards with 7:18 left in the period.

Even though the second stanza was dominated by the Rangers, the Flyers jumped back into the lead with 6: 43 left in the period on a power-play goal by Simmonds who took a pass from Brayden Schenn at left wing circle and hit a slap-shot past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist, who played the Flyers tough in recent years.

“I was looking for (Jakub Voracek) back door, but no one even came to me so I thought I was just shoot it as hard as I can and if worse comes to worse there’s a rebound off to (Voracek), but luckily it went in,” Simmonds said.

 

 

Flyer Can’t Overcome Slow Start in Loss to Carolina

23 Jan

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—For the first 39 ½ minutes in their game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Flyers looked like a team that didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. The team hadn’t skated in two days thanks to Tuesday’s snowstorm. They were down 2-0 until they got a goal from Claude Giroux with 25 seconds left in the second period.

Three minutes into the third period, a goal by Scott Hartnell evened the game and it looked like the Flyers had found their energy.

Unfortunately, the Flyers once again found out that you can’t fall behind a team and expect to win.   Carolina came with a 3-2 win over the Flyers in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.

 Jiri Tlusty’s goal with 6:10 remaining in the third period was the game-winner for the Hurricanes (21-19-9).  

“We didn’t play very good and we ended up losing the game,” said Flyer head coach Craig Berube. “The whole game we weren’t very good. You’ve got to have a lot more energy than that.”

In the first period, the Flyers (25-20-6) couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end and managed to get off just three shots.

“We can’t be shooting ourselves in the foot like this we need to have better starts,” Giroux said. “I think first period was the way we wanted to play. I know we didn’t skate for two days, but that’s not good enough.”

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes Alexander Semin provided the only scoring of the period when he took a pass from center Eric Staal near the right-wing circle and shot it past Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros and goalie Steve Mason for a 1-0 lead.

“It was just a heck of a shot,” Mason said. “He got a really good shot through (Meszaros) body a little bit. It was just a nice shot.”

The Hurricanes upped the margin to 2-0 on a break-away goal by center Nathan Gerbe, who  took control of the puck that went through the leg of defenseman Luke Schenn, who was standing at the top of the blue near the right wing circle.

Late in the second period, the Flyers got into the scoring column a goal by Giroux, who rebounded a shot by Jakub Voracek that bounced off the pad of goalie Anton Khudobin. Giroux, who was to the left of Khudobin, somehow got the puck behind the Carolina goalkeeper and into the net.

“When (Giroux) scored late that was a big goal for us to give us some momentum,” said Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell.

The Flyers would even things three minutes into the third period on a power-play goal by Hartnell, who shot the puck into the net on a rebound off a shot from Wayne Simmonds that was blocked by Khudobin.

After Hartnell’s goal, the Flyers simply could not sustain the momentum and they looked like a team struggling to find some energy on the offensive end. On defense, they allowed Tlusty’s goal because Voracek broke his stick and didn’t have enough time to get a new one from the bench.  

For the last two games going back to Monday’s overtime shoot-out loss to the New York Islander, the Flyers have been lulled into thinking they can just turn it and off even if they fall behind as they did in Wednesday’s game.

“We just sat back and thought that we were going to wait until overtime and maybe win it in a shootout,” Hartnell said. “That’s not the way to play. It hasn’t been our ‘MO’ when we’ve been successful, but we’ll change that.”

Flyers Rebound from Loss in Chicago

13 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Thursday Night’s game at the Wells Fargo was a homecoming in more ways than one for the Flyers.

For starters, the Flyers were trying to put an end to a three-game losing streak while getting over the shellacking they took at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks on Wednesday night to cap a long six-game road trip.

It was also the return of former Flyers and now Montreal Canadiens center Danny Briere, who got a video tribute and a standing ovation from the Flyers fans filled with memories of his 30-point performance during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

“We all loved Danny,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “We loved his time here. He’s a great guy and a very good hockey player. There’s a lot of respect from us and his teammates. He got a great welcome from the fans.”

Showing no signs of having played 24 hours earlier, the Flyers gave the 19,748 home fans something to cheer about with a 2-1 win over the Canadians. It was the Flyers sixth straight win on their home ice.

“After our performance in Chicago … we did a good job of five-on-five today,” Jakub Voracek, who had two assists. “Actually, we weren’t thinking about last night when we got our ass kicked. Every game is zero-zero and we knew it, I think we played very well tonight. It was a huge two points to bounce back after a disappointing loss in Chicago.”

Berube said he was happy with the energy and heart his team showed in their first night at home after a long road trip that ended with a horrific loss.

“I think there’s a lot of character in the room,” Berube said. “They certainly weren’t happy about that loss in Chicago because they wanted to show that they could compete with that team. It didn’t work out they wanted it to, but it was a lot of character and it was a good win tonight. They played a good team game tonight.”

After giving up seven goals against Chicago the previous night, the Flyers clamped down on defense and kept the Canadian from getting any good shots on goalie Steve Mason, who had 20 saves against 21 shots. Montreal didn’t score until there was 56 seconds left in the game.

“It was a great overall effort,” Mason said. “Guys were really hard not to give them too many opportunities to have any rushes because they’re a fast team.”

Claude Giroux, who scored what turned about the game-winning goal in the second period, said the Flyers defensive effort also got the offense going.

“I think we really did a good job,” Giroux said. “Most of our chances offensively is because we played good defensively. When we understand that we’ll have more chances.”

The Flyers also stayed away from the penalty box. The Canadians had just one just one power-play opportunity, but did not score.

With 6:03 left in the first period, Flyers left winger Michael Rafl scored the game’s first goal on a pass from Voracek who was positioned behind the net to the left of Montreal goalie Carey Price. It was Rafl’s second goal of the season. It was really special because his dad was in the building for the Flyers Father-Son Night.

“It was just great, amazing,” Rafl said. “He never saw an NHL game live and all this stuff was just awesome.”

The Flyers took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on a goal by Giroux, who got the puck on a cross pass from Voracek, who got his second assist of the game.

The Canadians got their only goal late in the game from center Alex  Galchenyuk.

Third Line Leads Flyers to Win over Buffalo

22 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

PHILADELPHIA—Coming into Thursday night’s game, the Flyers (9-10-2) had lost all seven games in which their opponent scored the game’s first goal.

During a lackluster first period for the home team, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, in a scrum near the Flyers net, somehow got a shot past goalie Ray Emery to give his team a 1-0 lead. A few weeks ago that goal would have been the kiss of death for a Flyers team that was struggling to score.

But the early Buffalo goal only served to wake the Flyers up as they did all the scoring the rest of the way in a 4-1 win over the Sabres in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.  The Flyers are 5-0-1 in their last six games and have outscored their opponents 22-8.

“After that (first period) we kept at it and kept it at and we finally got a couple in the second,” Emery said.

After struggling in the first period, the Flyers seized control of the game in the second period thanks to their No. 3 scoring line which consisted of right winger Matt Read, who scored the team’s first two goals, Steve Downie and center Sean Couturier, who got assists on those two scores.

“The third line played great,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “It’s nice to get balanced scoring for sure. When you can have everybody chipping in, it goes a long way.”

Read scored the Flyers first goal with 6:53 left in the second period on a pass from Downie. A little over a minute later, Couturier stole the puck from Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder and passed it to Downie who circled around the net and found Read in front of the net who shot the puck past goalie Ryan Miller.

“As a line, we played pretty good,” Couturier said. “We kept it simple, put puck deeps and won some battles. Read finished two nice plays there.”

Read said he, Downie and Couturier often meet about getting deep in the scoring zone and getting the puck to the net and they’re doing a good job of developing chemistry with each other.

“Couturier, Downie and I are having fun out there,” Read said. “We’re doing the simple things and not turning pucks over, just making things happen. The key to our line is to get pucks deep and go to work. Things just went our way tonight, but we have three or four solid lines. Any given night, any line can score. It’s fun to play when all four lines are cooking like that.”

After the second period, the Flyers kept the pressure on the Sabres in the third period. With 10:02 left in the game, Vincent LeCavalier’s goal upped the margin to 3-1. Scott Hartnell added another on an empty-netter with 11 seconds left in the game. For the game, the Flyers outshot the Sabres (5-18-1) 46 to 30.

Meanwhile, Emery had a solid night in goal for the Flyers. He had 29 saves while upping his record to 3-3 on the season. That was something that was not lost on Berube.

“Ray was solid again. He’s done a really good job. He’s a very good goalie,” Berube said. “He wins a lot of games. He goes in there and wins games. Like I say again, he was solid.”