Flyers coach Berube wants better defense, play without puck


New bench boss Craig Berube isn’t micning words explaining what the Flyers needs to improve.

“First of all, team defense,” Berube told CSN Philly. “We need to play better without the puck. When you play good hockey without the puck, the team comes together and does the right things to get the puck back and to keep the puck out of your net.

“Right now, we need to stress that.”

Berube, 47, knows of what he speaks. He wasn’t exactly a skill guy during his 18-year career, racking up 3,149 penalty minutes in 1,054 games, the seventh-most PIM in league history.

What Berube was, though, was a hard-nosed grinder type that earned the admiration of another tough guy — Chris Simon — when Simon broke into the league in 1990.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Simon, the Flyers’ initial second-round draft pick and the 25th selection overall in the June 16 [1990] NHL entry draft, says that he admires Craig Berube because the three-year veteran left winger isn’t afraid to mix it up along the boards.

“He’s the chief,” said Simon, who shares an Indian heritage with Berube. ”He’s my type of player. He’s very aggressive, and he knows what to do when he gets the puck.”

Berube went on to notch a career-high eight goals with Philly that season, along with 293 PIM in 74 games.

In describing what he plans to do with the current crop of Flyers, Berube stressed that the focus wouldn’t be entirely defensive. He wants the team to get back to being a hard-nosed group, perhaps even mimicking its coach.

“We want to be an aggressive hockey team on both sides of the puck,” he explained. “And for me right now, I don’t see our team doing a very good job without the puck. Everybody’s going to say, we only scored three goals in three games.

“You want to score more goals? Do your job without the puck.”

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.