The 2013-14 Flyers season began almost as abysmal as any in their long history. An 0-3 start lead to Peter Laviolette being shown the door. Players were complaining about lack of system knowledge due to a poor training camp, Ed Snider stated it was the worst run camp in his time as Owner and Fans could clearly see a team that did not prepare itself well for the regular season.
Enter Craig "Chief" Berube.
Berube got off to a rough start as Flyers head coach going 1-4, pushing their overall record to 1-7. Images of a high draft pick, firesale and the 2006 season flashed before many fans eyes. Then something magical happened with this team. Ray Emery beat the living daylights out of Brayden Holtby. The Flyers drubbing at the hands of the Caps ended in a slug fest of a line brawl and a goalie fight where Emery just took his, a team and a city's frustrations out on a much weaker goalie.
Since that time the Flyers have compiled a 38-20-9 record which has been one of the best in the league since that time. They currently sit 3rd in the Metropolitan division behind NYR with a record of 39-27-9 and 87 points.
Preaching a better style of team defense, Berube got his tribe to buy into his system and we have seen a revitalization of the teams play in their own end. The six man group anchoring the back end have been key to the success in the standing this year. Luke Schenn has begun to find his game after a few benchings from Chief and even more "optional" conditioning sessions. Brayden Coburn and Nick Grossmann have been stalwarts at clearing out their own crease and getting the puck up to the forwards on the breakout. A trade by the team brought Andy MacDonald to the team in exchange for the offensively gifted but oft injury/turnover plagued Meszaros. MAcDonald has solidified the back end and offered a small offensive threat with deft breakout passes through the middle. Mark Streit is Mark Streit. Not the greatest or most physical in his own end, but he brings an offensive prowess making this team a constant threat inside opponents blue lines. Kimmo Timmonen has been this teams anchor for years since his arrival in Philadelphia. He continues to battle every night. He may not have the first step to keep up with some forwards any more but he leaves his heart on that ice every single night.
Let's not forget the goaltending play either. Mason and Emery have both been exceptional this year. Mason has proven himself as a #1 starter in this league again and Emery has been as solid of a backup as you could ask for. These two are one of the biggest reasons over the past month they have picked up 21 out of 30 possible points.
While preaching a defensive first system, Berube has seen his offense EXPLODE since November. Claude Giroux has led this charge amassing 78 points, good enough for 3rd in the NHL behind Ryan Getzlaf and the captain of that team in western PA. Giroux's totals are impressive but this team boasts a very deep and balanced offensive attack. Wayne Simmonds is having another career year by scoring goals and making big plays left and right. Brayden Schenn has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat this year tallying 18 goals so far. Hartnell has done what he does, chaos in front and a lethal shot from the mid-slot. Voracek has continued on last year's success by scoring in bunches and being a great set-up man on the powerplay.
The only other coach in the entire NHL who even has an argument for this award is Patrick Roy in Colorado. He is a first year coach who has taken a hold of this Avs team and navigated them into a playoff spot and are considered to be one of the most feared teams in the league.
Berube has gotten his entire team to buy into his system of defense wins games and the offense will come. They are currently firing on all cylinders and sending a message to the entire NHL with the way they have been playing games lately against the NHL's elite teams. The rest of the NHL is hearing this message loud and clear as well: Beware Broad and Pattison come April 16th.