Little support for Berube as coach of year

Posted: April 09, 2014

SUNRISE, Fla. - Coaching professional hockey is a funny business.

Last year's Jack Adams Award winner as coach of the year, Paul MacLean, is being blasted in Ottawa for the Senators' lost season.

Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Ted Nolan was just given a 3-year contract extension for his work with the Sabres, who have only 14 regulation wins. Paul Maurice may not return to the bench - at his own discretion - after the best 32 games (16-12-5) the Jets have played since moving to Winnipeg in 2011.

And in Philadelphia, there is a good chance Craig Berube won't be recognized as a finalist for the Jack Adams, through no fault of his own.

The Jack Adams Award voting has quickly become one of the most interesting discussions of the final week of this 82-game grind.

According to an anonymous survey of 16 head coaches by TSN's Bob McKenzie yesterday, Berube didn't finish in the top five in their voting. Colorado's Patrick Roy earned 11 of 16 first-place votes.

It is important to keep in mind, though, that NHL broadcasters vote on the Jack Adams Award - and not coaches.

It's impossible to argue with the job Roy has done in his first season behind the Avalanche bench. They are two victories away from their franchise record (52) after winning just 16 games last year. Roy, as fiery a coach as he was a goaltender, has once-proud Colorado back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The only problem is that they'll have to face Chicago in the first round.

Surprisingly, Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper finished third in that unscientific vote by his peers. If you'd have told me that Steven Stamkos would miss 4 months of the season, the young Lightning would trade Martin St. Louis and still hold home-ice advantage in the first round, I'd have given you 75-to-1 odds. I'd also be out of a lot of money.

It's tough to look past the job Mike Babcock has done with an injury-riddled Red Wings team and the fire still burning in Boston inside Claude Julien's Bruins.

It is just that practically any other year, Berube (40-26-9) would be the talk of the league at the helm of a team that began the first month of the season as a punch line. That's tough to swallow for the Flyers.

Rinaldo suspended

Forward Zac Rinaldo was suspended yesterday for the remainder of the regular season (four games) by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for his hit on Buffalo's Chad Ruhwedel on Sunday. It was Rinaldo's first suspension since the 2011-12 season.

In a statement, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren called Brendan Shanahan's decision "harsh" but said they'll live with the penalty.

"It was unfortunate that I can't be playing the rest of the regular season, I was in a groove and I was playing good," Rinaldo said. "It was just one of those hits that slipped away from me, just bad timing."

Rinaldo will forfeit $15,384.60 in pay. He will be eligible to return in the Flyers' first game of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Penalty shots

* One serious dark horse in the Hart Trophy race to be Sidney Crosby's runner-up is Dallas' Tyler Seguin. Very quietly, Seguin has rocketed up the NHL's scoring leaderboard, pulling ahead of Claude Giroux with 82 points.

Seguin, 22, has played with a chip on his shoulder all season since he was jettisoned by the Bruins last summer because of an immature attitude. He has tag-teamed with Jamie Benn (75 points) to lead the Stars back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08.

With his recent three-game swoon to tumble in the scoring ranks, Giroux has probably played himself out of the running to be a finalist for the Hart. Giroux, 26, finished fourth in the voting in 2011-12, when he had 93 points.

* Who will be telling free agent Jaromir Jagr he is too old to keep playing this summer? Teams will do so at their own peril. After jumping around with Dallas and Boston last season and a marginal playoff run, the offers weren't flowing freely last summer.

What the 42-year-old Jagr has been able to accomplish in New Jersey has been nothing short of incredible. He entered last night's game with 24 goals and 40 assists to lead the surging Devils with 64 points - tied for 28th in the NHL. Just 16 of those 64 points have come on the power play. He also has been remarkably healthy, appearing in all 78 games.

Jagr could well end up back with the Devils. A source says negotiations with his agent, former Flyer Petr Svoboda, and GM Lou Lamoriello won't start in earnest until after the season ends.

* Favorites for the Flyers' year-end awards: Bobby Clarke Trophy (Team MVP) - Claude Giroux; Barry Ashbee Trophy (top defenseman) - Kimmo Timonen; Most Improved Player - Wayne Simmonds; Class Guy Award - Jake Voracek.

Toughest choice? Probably belongs to the players, who will have to decide who is most improved. Steve Mason, Zac Rinaldo and Michael Raffl are all strong choices. But no one has rounded out his game better than Simmonds.

On-ice

Clinching setup

The Flyers can clinch a Stanley Cup playoff berth tonight at Florida, thanks to New Jersey’s loss to Calgary last night.

Stat watch

1: Win needed for Steve Mason to match his career high, set in 2008-09 with Columbus (33-20-7).

6: League-high number of 20-goal scorers for the Flyers this season. Vinny Lecavalier (19 goals) is knocking on the door as No. 7.

10: Career three-point games for Mark Streit after his three-assist effort against Buffalo. It was his first three-point night since Jan. 10, 2012.

The week ahead

Flyers at Florida

Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

Playing out the string of yet another fruitless regular season in South Florida, the Panthers (28-43-8) have earned just four of a possible 20 points over their last 10 games. Nonetheless, the Flyers are in danger of losing this season’s series. They had won five straight games at BB&T Center before a 3-1 loss on Nov. 25.

Flyers at Tampa Bay

Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

An abrupt ending to the Marty St. Louis era in Tampa Bay at the trade deadline on March 5 hasn’t disrupted the flow for the Lightning, who are 8-4-4 in 16 games since. The strong trade, adding Ryan Callahan and two first-round picks, helped earn GM Steve Yzerman a 4-year extension yesterday. The Lightning have outscored the Flyers, 10-5, in two wins this season — both without Steven Stamkos.

Flyers at Pittsburgh

Saturday, 3 o’clock

With playoff spots and seeding largely determined, Saturday’s matinee at Consol Energy Center could prove mostly meaningless. When these two tangle, though, anything is possible. Both teams could be resting star players.

Flyers vs. Carolina

Sunday, 3 o’clock

This is the first season in more than 10 years that all NHL teams played each other twice — and the Flyers could end up with at least one win against 28 of them (except Boston) with victories over Tampa Bay and Carolina this week. The Flyers lost all three games so far to Carolina by one goal, once in overtime.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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