There are some things as a hockey journalist and fan that you marvel at, and there are some things that you look at and can’t even comprehend. The job Craig Berube is doing in Philadelphia falls into the latter of these two categories.
How do you even begin to comprehend the logic behind some of the decisions being made?
Thursday night’s brutal 4-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks brought to light a lot of problems with Craig Berube’s coaching decisions. I’ll let Twitter explain, first.
Zac RInaldo gets the 10-minute misconduct Craig Berube thought he was smart enough to avoid.
— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) January 16, 2015
Then Berube cautioned: “It’s a fine line with him. He has to walk the fine line.”
Rinaldo took a careless hi-sticking penalty just as the second period opened. Vancouver used it to open up a 3-0 lead. Time for the coach to stick to his plan, right?
How about “Zac Rinaldo has more ice time than Wayne Simmonds"
— PHIFan7779311 (@SoundFlyer14) January 16, 2015
Rinaldo records more EV ice time tonight than Claude Giroux & Jake Voracek. This is real life… pic.twitter.com/41TkeQ2RZG
— Mikey D, O&BP 🤙🏼🏴☠️ (@MikeyD_OandBP) January 16, 2015
Tired of people ripping Berube? He needs to start maximizing the talent he has, not running Umberger on the PP/putting Rinaldo on 2nd line
— jsaquella (@jsaquella) January 16, 2015
Zac Rinaldo had 13:03 even strength TOI. That was more than Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Michael Raffl, and Vinny Lecavalier. The worst part about all of this, is that Rinaldo spent 6:02 of game time in the penalty box (while accumulating 12 penalty minutes). Through two periods, Rinaldo was second on the team in 5v5 ice time. What if he hadn’t spent the last 6 minutes of the game in the box? He could have easily finished top 3 in even strength ice time.
Two of the top scorers in the league saw less even strength ice time than a 4th line grinder who is notorious for taking bad penalties. There is no excuse, it’s a bad decision and it’s flat out bad coaching.
The ice time problems go past there. Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier (2 PIM), Wayne Simmonds (5 PIM), and RJ Umberger all saw more ice time than Jake Voracek, with everyone but Umberger also seeing more ice time than Giroux as well. That’s total time on ice, not just even strength, and keep in mind that Giroux and Voracek both had no penalty minutes, meaning they were available the whole game.
Berube received a lot of praise last year for turning the season around (something I’d argue that Claude Giroux did himself), but this year, his actions are quickly becoming indefensible. The Flyers are lacking in the player personnel department, but Berube is failing miserably at utilizing his best players in situations where they’re needed. It happened a few weeks ago in New Jersey, and it happened again against Vancouver. Regardless of where the Flyers sit in the standings it is simply unacceptable.
The penalty kill is the worst in the league, yet Zac Rinaldo is still seeing more ice time then he should. The coach has been running the same, broken penalty kill since last years 7 game loss against the Rangers, he overplayed a goalie that he knew was injured, and two of the leagues top scorers are not even finishing top 3 among forwards in ice time on some nights. It may be too late to salvage this season, but maybe it’d be worth it to try someone new right now, because the current situation is certainly not working.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.