Berube benches Downie for lack of intensity

Posted: January 14, 2014

NEW YORK - Few coaches in recent Flyers history have demanded accountability from their players like Craig Berube since he took the helm on Oct. 7.

So, rather than let Steve Downie continue to cost the Flyers with questionable defensive-zone play and a lack of production offensively, Berube made the bold move to bench him last night at Madison Square Garden.

Berube opted to use a lineup that included Jay Rosehill, Chris VandeVelde and Tye McGinn instead. It was Downie's first game as a healthy scratch since being reacquired by the Flyers on Halloween in exchange for Max Talbot.

"I think Steve's intensity level isn't high enough on a shift-to-shift basis," Berube said after the team's morning skate. "I think he's got to find that intensity. He's got to be playing on the edge without being undisciplined."

Downie, 26, hasn't played with much of any edge - going without a point in each of his last eight games since returning after Christmas from a two-game absence with an "upper-body" injury.

Although many reports speculated Downie may have suffered a second concussion in as many months with a hit against Columbus on Dec. 19, that was not the case. A source told the Daily News that Downie actually had sustained an arm injury.

The arm injury impacted his ability to win puck battles, which was why the Flyers gave him two games and the holiday break to recoup before rejoining the lineup Dec. 28 in Edmonton.

Turns out, that may not be the only injury Downie has been managing. Downie admitted yesterday he's still dealing with "a couple issues," but wasn't about to let that serve as an explanation for his dip in play.

"I'm not going to make excuses," Downie said. "I haven't been playing my best hockey lately, that's obvious. I feel all right. I'm OK."

He said he did not speak with the coaching staff about his turn out of the lineup, but added it wasn't his decision and he wanted to play. Downie seemed to disagree with Berube's assessment that his game was lacking intensity.

"Whether it's intensity or not, I haven't been playing well," Downie said. "I've never really had that problem in my career. You've got to come to work every day and win your battles. It comes down to my heart. I've got to find my game again."

One thing Downie has to find is a way to limit turnovers, particularly in his own zone. Probably more than his lack of scoring chances, his defensive lapses earned him a demotion to the fourth line on Saturday and a spot in the press box last night.

Against the Rangers, Downie would have been far from the only one with questionable play around his goaltender.

"Everybody turns the puck over," Berube said. "You've got to correct it. We don't like turnovers. They happen in games. We've got to talk about it. He's going to be more disciplined in doing that. Turnovers kill you."

That's a wrap

From the moment Christian Van Horn, a bass baritone with the nearby Metropolitan Opera, belted out the final words of the national anthem last night, Dan Carcillo began to run his mouth against his former teammates.

Carcillo, back on the East Coast after being traded from the Kings on Jan. 5, did plenty to back up his motormouth.

He tucked a wraparound goal behind Ray Emery just 2:14 into the game for his first goal as a Ranger. He then dropped the gloves with Luke Schenn in the second period after trading verbal barbs with Wayne Simmonds and Jay Rosehill throughout the game.

Yet, it was Carcillo's stuff attempt that did the most damage, beginning a flurry of three first-period goals in the Rangers' 4-1 victory. He may have been the beneficiary of those 8 extra inches in space behind the net, since this season the NHL made goals 4 inches shorter on each side.

Real estate is expensive in Manhattan, after all.

According to SBNation.com, teams are taking advantage of the extra room. Compared to last year (0.96), teams are attempting about the same amount of wraparounds (1.00 per game). Possibly due to the extra space, the percentage of wraparounds scored (5.8 percent) has gone up significantly compared to last season (3.6 percent). Food for thought as the second half plays out in a season where scoring is slightly down overall.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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