Berube switches top line
Flyers coach Craig Berube drops Scott Hartnell off Claude Giroux line in the third period off loss to Rangers.
NEW YORK - Trailing by two goals and searching for a spark, Craig Berube sent Brayden Schenn over the boards with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek on the second shift of the third period.
For Giroux and Voracek, it marked the first time in months they had skated a regular shift with anyone other than Scott Hartnell.
"I switched it up just to try to get something going," Berube reasoned postgame. "I'm not sure if I'll stick with that or not. I just made a switch there."
The switch seemed inevitable, just based on the Rangers' ability to shut down the Flyers' top line through the first four games and two periods.
Prior to the switch, the line had combined for just two goals, both by Voracek. Schenn was also quiet with just four shots on goal and two assists. Defenseman Mark Streit had as many points as Hartnell, who did not seem pleased with the temporary demotion.
When asked if he thought the switch was necessary, Hartnell replied: "I thought we had jump. Everybody did."
The jolt may have ignited Hartnell, who added two shots, a hit and a takeaway in the third period alone. He was back with Giroux when the captain broke his scoring slump at the Garden with 1:29 to play. Whether Berube decides to go with a different look for Game 6, perhaps moving up the speedier Jason Akeson to play with Giroux, remains to be seen.
"Every line needs to jump," Giroux said. "We needed to play better as a team game. When we did, we did a lot of good things."
Berube officially ruled Nick Grossmann out for tomorrow night's Game 6. The Flyers' shot-blocking expert left Friday's Game 4 minutes into the second period when he awkwardly slid into the boards feetfirst.
While many suspected damage to Grossmann's surgically repaired right knee, he actually left the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night in a walking boot, which would suggest a foot or ankle injury. His status for a possible Game 7 on Wednesday is unknown; the Flyers have only termed his injury one of the "lower-body" variety.
From the moment Hal Gill appeared to be Grossmann's replacement at practice on Saturday, Berube was second-guessed for his decision to go with Gill over Erik Gustafsson.
Gustafsson, 25, is quicker but has just seven games of Stanley Cup playoff experience and confidence has been an issue for him all season. Gill, 39, is slower, but better defensively and has won a Stanley Cup in his 111 career postseason appearances.
Gill was the Game 5 scapegoat, but Berube rightly did not hang the game-winning goal on him.
As a whole, Berube said he didn't take issue with the Flyers' play defensively.
"I thought our 'D' was fine," Berube said. "We gave up 22 shots. I didn't think we gave up a whole lot."
Rangers forward Brad Richards, on the Flyers nearly making things interesting late in the third period when Claude Giroux cut it to 3-2:
"We took back the advantage and we have to win one now. We put ourselves in a good position after being tied 2-2 [in the series]. It was a good overall effort. We were in control for most of the game, but they got a little sneaky there at the end."