By JACK McCAFFERY
NEW YORK --- Craig Berube was a Stanley
Cup playoffs rookie at the beginning of the Flyers-Rangers series,
his first as an NHL head coach. By the time it whipped into its
seventh game, he'd already had the full range of experience.
He'd changed goalies. He'd dealt with
injuries. He'd scrambled lines, attempting to work certain players
out of slumps. He'd matched and countered and re-countered the
Rangers' lines. He'd adjusted defensive pairings. He'd tried young
players and old.
And whatever would happen Wednesday at
Madison Square Garden, he figured he'd be most prepared for the next
“I like coaching,” Berube said, as
the series was about to go the distance. “And that is what I am
dong. All that stuff goes into coaching. It's what you have to do as
a coach --- make adjustments, do certain things. Things happen.
Injuries happen. We lost Nik Grossmann and had to put different
people in the lineup.
“It's all part of it.”
So it was, all of the personnel
changes, all of the in-game maneuvers. But so, too, was the mental
preparation, with Berube having maneuvered through the series never
allowing the Flyers to sag into a two-game losing streak.
“Today, we just went over a few
things and had a meeting,” he said, as the teams prepared to play
for the second time in as many nights. “I told them it's important
that we get skating right away. It's two good teams, and you have to
be ready from the start.
“I haven’t done anything different,
to be honest with you,” he added. “Like I said, I try to keep it
as normal as we can. It's a big game. I have to keep my emotions in
check. The players do, too.”
The Flyers started the series with a
loss, but recovered and ultimately forced Game 7 with a 5-2 victory
in Game 6, their best, to that point, in the playoffs. In it, Berube
made multiple successful moves, including dressing Erik Gustafsson,
who would score a goal.
By Wednesday, he was just ready for a
“Thinking about the series before it
started, I thought it would be a long one for sure,” he said. “I
thought the teams were fairly equal. We split during the regular
season, home and home. So I thought looking at that side of it, it
was going to be a long series.”
The first, he'd hoped, in a
no-longer-early coaching career.