NEED TO BE BETTER, MAN
VOORHEES, N.J. – One of the items that has seemingly slid to the back burner of the observer’s conscience that coach Craig Berube said he wanted to bring to the Flyers is the notion of accountability.
Berube insisted that was going to be his approach as coach – holding his players accountable for their own play.
He hasn’t been shy in criticizing players when they are subpar.
His message is starting to get through.
Take Kimmo TImonen for example.
The veteran defenseman has been demoted off of the Flyers top power play unit for the first time since he was brought here in 2007.
Timonen was third in the NHL in power play scoring among defensemen a season ago. He is without a point this season and starting tomorrow will be replaced on the top unit by Mark Streit.
“Obviously I’ve played power play for 15 years now,” TImonen said. “It is a big deal but I’m an old school guy and I feel like you have to earn your spot on power play or penalty killing. When you get taken off the power play, I take that as, ‘you have to be better.’ Like I said, I’m a little old school but that’s a message and I have to play better.”
And Berube didn’t mince words when he talked about his associate captain.
“I think just from a competitive level, he knows he can play better,” Berube said, referring to Timonen. “There are a lot of guys that know they can play better. It’s not just him. Everybody can play better as a team. I’m not here to single anybody out… We all can play better.”
And Timonen wasn’t shying away from the notion he needs to improve his game.
“I’ve played almost 1,100 games,” he said. “So when this happens that’s some kind of a message... I’m one of the leaders on the team so you have to take that and… bring better stuff on the ice. You can be mad about it and you should be mad about it, but you have to show that you can still do the same stuff you used to do, but life goes on and you have to be better.”
In Timonen’s defense, he is a bit banged up, but then again, when isn’t he?
Known as a warrior, TImonen has played through significant injuries in the past. He admitted he’s doing it again now, but as always, will never use injury as an excuse.
“When you play hockey 27 years you can imagine [I’m] not perfect,” he said. “I’m pretty good. I can’t say 100 percent, but I’m good enough to play better, let’s put it that way.”
And Timonen is going to have to find his offense mostly in 5-on-5 situations as even though he remains on the second unit of the power play, he’ll likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 seconds of power play time per chance.
“Everybody wants to play power play that’s the way you get into the game and get confidence back,” he said. “It does a lot of things to you. But we haven’t been scoring. We’re trying to find a way to add scoring. I’m fine with it.
“I’ve made my living [on the power play]. Everything good ends sometimes I guess. I’m fine with it. I’m taking it as I have to be better and hopefully I’ll get back out there someday and do a better job with it. That’s what I mean by being old school. When I came into the league I had to earn my spot in there. I was able to keep it for a long time. But now I have to earn it back. I have to play better.”
NOTES: TImonen wasn’t the only accountability guy for the Flyers at practice Wednesday. With his ice time diminishing, Luke Schenn requested extra hard skating drills with the expected scratches after practice. Run by assistant coach Ian Laperriere, Schenn, Hal Gill, Andrej Meszaros, Scott Hartnell, Jay Rosehill and Kris Newbury were put through the ringer, skating hard through cones with a lot of stops and starts… Newbury was returned to the Phantoms after practice, which is probably all the evidence needed to suggest Vincent Lecavalier will return to the lineup tomorrow… The Flyers will not have to face Henrik Lundqvist in the game. The Rangers goalie will miss the game with a “minor issue” that is rumored to be a foot injury. Rookie Cam Talbot will make his NHL debut in the contest.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers