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GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER

Downie-Couturier-Read reunited in hopes of a spark
Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 1:23 PM ET
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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PHILADELPHIA – It’s not because he’s on a “Mission from God” but Flyers coach Craig Berube has decided to put the band back together.

By that, we’re referring to his shutdown line of Steve Downie, Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

When the trio played together for 18 games from mid-November to mid-December, they were as good a line as the Flyers had, and during that stretch of games, were one of the best two-way lines in the league.

Game after game, Berube would put the trio out there against the top line of whichever opponent was on the docket and in most instances, the Flyers shut those big guns down.

The team was 11-4-3 with that trio together and in that time, they combined for 37 points – not too shabby for a third line.

Downie (2-10-12), Couturier (6-7-13) and Read (7-5-12) posted nearly a fourth of the Flyers total offense in those 18 games (24.4 percent) which is pretty impressive for a third line on any team, especially when you include points by defensemen into the equation.

So, why didn’t they stay together?

Well, it was a combination of things. First, they started to have a few off games. Road games in Dallas, Ottawa and Washington were not the best for the line as top tier players like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Alex Ovechkin had strong games against the Flyers.

Then, Downie suffered an upper-body injury that threw took him out of the lineup and in turn off his game.

Read later suffered a hit that cause concussion-like symptoms that cost him a couple weeks. Once all three were healthy again, Downie was struggling to find his game and couldn’t stay in the lineup.

But now, with the team having lost four straight (0-3-1), Berube wants to go back to something that worked previously.

“I’m trying to get Steve going and he played his best hockey with them,” Berube said. “They were a good line when they were together and I haven’t seen the same out of the three of them [collectively] since. I’m looking for some spark there.”

Berube hopes to get it against a Detroit team that comes to Philadelphia completely beat up. They will be without top players goalie Jimmy Howard and forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss – all nursing injuries.

If he can jump start that line again, it will also help defensively, as the Flyers have allowed three goals or more in each of the last nine games (2-5-2).

“This is an opportunity and we’ll see where it goes,” Downie said. “We’ve got to play smart hockey and stick to the system. We can’t play out of our element. We know what each of us brings to the table, so the best thing to do is stick to the game plan.”

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NOTES: Berube made a couple other changes to his line combinations as well. Scott Hartnell is back on the top line, Vinny Lecavalier is back on the left wing with Brayden Schenn at center and Michael Raffl is down on the fourth line with Chris Vandevelde and Adam Hall. Berube said Raffl hasn’t done anything to deserve a demotion, nor should he view this as one because he’d like to get the fourth line more minutes. “I think he helps the fourth line,” Berube said. “He’s been a good player. Wherever he goes, people seem to play good around him. It’s important both tonight and on this road trip that we have four lines ready to go. It’ll be a better fourth line with him on it.” … Zac Rinaldo was a full participant in practice, but he won’t play tonight. He is day-to-day at this point… Jay Rosehill, Andrej Meszaros and Hal Gill remain the healthy scratches… Steve Mason gets the start in goal… Former Flyer Vinny Prospal officially announced his retirement today after 16 seasons... The Flyers have won seven straight against Detroit at Wells Fargo Center and haven’t lost a game to them here since Game 2 of the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 51 16 28 -6 44
J. Voracek 51 8 34 -1 42
W. Simmonds 51 18 16 -6 34
B. Schenn 49 14 15 -1 29
S. Gostisbehere 33 9 18 4 27
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 50 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 51 4 10 -6 14
M. Del Zotto 49 4 9 -9 13
M. Raffl 51 6 6 2 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 13 7 .916 2.69
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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