CraigBerube

Flyers coach Berube wants better defense, play without puck

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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.”

A few ‘bad decisions’ have been costing Lundqvist

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) reacts after giving up a goal to Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in New York. The Penguins won 6-1. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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Henrik Lundqvist has set such a high bar that his 12-8-1 record with a .912 save percentage is cause for great concern these days in New York.

That his backup, Antti Raanta, is 6-1-0 with a .932 save percentage only contributes to that concern, because if Raanta can manage those numbers, what’s Lundqvist’s excuse?

“I feel like I’m tracking the puck well, moving well,” Lundqvist told the Daily News. “It just comes down to some bad decisions at times that cost me.”

Indeed, December has not started well for The King. He’s allowed 10 goals in three starts for a save percentage of .894. In Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders, his decision to poke check a loose puck led to the winning goal by Andrew Ladd.

But while this month has been a struggle, it should be noted that Lundqvist was mostly excellent in November. He finished with a .925 save percentage, including that 40-save victory on Black Friday in Philadelphia.

Which is to say, he has more than earned the benefit of the doubt. Since 2008-09, Lundqvist has not finished a season with a save percentage below .920, and that is a remarkable achievement.

Raanta was solid again last night in Winnipeg, where the Rangers beat the Jets, 2-1. A starting goalie for tonight’s game in Chicago has not yet been announced, but Lundqvist is a good bet.

Top 10 career save percentages among goalies with at least 300 NHL starts

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Jets send talented rookie Connor to AHL

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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Kyle Connor is on his way to the minors.

On Friday, Winnipeg announced that Connor — the former Michigan Wolverines star taken 17th overall in 2015 — has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.

Connor, 19, had just one goal and four points through 19 games this year, struggling to adjust to life at the professional level.

He’d been a healthy scratch for each of the Jets’ last six games and, prior to that, missed five games with an upper-body injury after getting nailed into the boards by L.A. forward Kyle Clifford.

The Jets are getting healthy up front, which further explains why Connor is on his way to the Moose. Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault both recently returned from injury.

 

NHL owners have ‘negative sentiment’ toward involvement in 2018 Olympics

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman unveils the League's Centennial celebration plans for 2017 during a press conference at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says there’s significant opposition among team owners to continuing participation in the Winter Olympics, and the league is running out of time on negotiations to take part in the 2018 Games.

Following a meeting of the league’s Board of Governors on Thursday, Bettman said no decision was made regarding Olympics participation in 2018 in South Korea.

“I think it’s fair to say that there is some strong negative sentiment in the room,” Bettman said. “But nothing was decided today.”

NHL players have competed in the past five Winter Olympics dating to 1998 and want to continue taking part, but owners are concerned about the midseason interruption and injury risk.

Bettman said his recent proposal to the NHL Players’ Association regarding an extension of the collective bargaining agreement in return for Olympic participation was part of a larger discussion about hockey’s international calendar.

“That discussion morphed into, `Maybe we should be talking about a long-term international schedule with predictability,”‘ Bettman said. “If you look at the calendar and you play it out in the logical sequences of the way these events get played, we said if you look at the calendar and get rid of the (CBA) reopeners and you extend by three years, that gets you two Olympics, two World Cups and two Ryder Cups.”

Such an agreement would ensure nine years of labor peace, but players rejected the proposal.

In other matters, the league gave owners a range for next season’s salary cap. Bettman projected it would remain flat or increase by about $2 million.

The NHL does not intend to reconsider the name or logo of the Las Vegas expansion franchise after U.S. patent authorities denied the club’s trademark request, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

“It’s much ado about nothing,” Daly said. “The franchise will go forward with that name and that logo. We have every expectation we’ll ultimately get that registration.”

Bettman has said a decision regarding the Olympics needs to be made by early January, giving the league time to create its 2017-18 schedule with or without a two-plus week break for the Olympics.

The Board of Governors meetings conclude Friday.

Ex-NHLer Kevin Stevens pleads guilty in drug conspiracy

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31:  Kevin Stevens #25 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game on December 31, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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BOSTON (AP) A two-time Stanley Cup champion hockey player from Massachusetts has pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge.

The Boston Globe reports (http://bit.ly/2grdpkl ) 51-year-old Kevin Stevens entered the plea Thursday in a Boston federal court to a charge of conspiring with another man to sell oxycodone.

Prosecutors say Stevens and another man were involved in a scheme to sell the painkiller from August 2015 through at least March 2016 in several cities. A plea agreement says Stevens was responsible for 175 pills containing 30 milligrams each of oxycodone.

His attorney says Stevens has battled an addiction to painkillers for many years.

The Pembroke native played 15 seasons in the National Hockey League, winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.