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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
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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Flyers Inside Out
GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER

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

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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