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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Berube supports Hextall's plan

Craig Berube met with the press before the Flyers-Blue Jackets game Tuesday.

This was the conversation:

On struggles of the top line:

“It's not that they are not doing their part. There's more to it than just scoring. Everybody looks at them to score. But they have been playing pretty solid defensively and doing other things, too. So that's very important in the game. And this time of year, you need all kinds of people to produce --- and big goals at big times. Because they are going to get checked, those guys, hard. So there is not a lot of room for them. They are going to get the best matchups every night from the other team. And it is important that the other guys are producing and helping out.”

The GM said he wouldn't make a trade just to make the playoffs this year. How does that make you feel?

“He didn't say that. He said he didn't want to give up a young asset. I don't blame him. I wouldn't either. I like our team. I liked it last year, too, at the deadline. Same thing. This team can play. And when they play together, and as of right now, the roll they are on right now, they are a good team. They can play against anybody.”

A player like Raffl, what about his versatility?

“He does a lot of different things for the team. I said I've always liked him at center. He's a good, strong skater. He has the puck more and does good things with it in the middle of the ice. And any role I give him, he does it. He enjoys the game. He's a good, all-around hockey player.”

Decision to keep MacDonald out of the lineup?

“They are all tough. Those are tough decisions with the defense. We've got eight healthy 'd', and they're good players. It's just unfortunate that a couple of them have to sit. But it's a team game and they've just got to be ready to go when called upon.”

You are not losing any … Del Zotto was on the fence, and came back … Mac has been in the league longer …

“They all want to play. I respect that. And when they are not playing and are not happy, I respect that, too. They shouldn't be. But they are part of this team. They've got to be good teammates. That's the bottom line.”

When you are setting a defensive lineup, are you looking at balancing the puck-movers, the stay-at-home guys, etc.?

“That's all part of it. There's different things that come up at different times that we look at. Opponents. How certain players are playing.”

Raffl injury? Until that happened, he was playing great. How much did it set him back?

“Injuries are funny. A lot of times they come back from injuries and they look good right away. And the first two or three games after the injury, there is a lot of adrenaline and things like that. It wears off a bit as the speed and conditioning really set in. It's hard to get game-related in practices. And that's the biggest thing. That's a challenge. I think it's important that we manage Raffl's minutes and keep him as fresh as we can, I believe, and build up and not over-use him and wear him out early on here since he's been back.”

Is he is equally as comfortable on the wing as he is at center?

“I think he probably prefers center. I think some of these guys, it's more freedom, skating, and being involved in it more. But he'll play any role we want. He does a good job either way.”

If you make the playoffs, you will go in as a hot team.

“Let's talk about tonight and that's it. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, OK?”

On Eric Desjardins

“Him and Kimmo remind me a lot of each other, the way they think the game and play the game. Just a real heads-up player. Obviously a winner. Quietly does his job. Just shows up every day and works. He takes it on the ice and leads by example on the ice. A very, very good defenseman. Very under-rated.”

What was he line in the room, off the ice?

“A quiet guy, but if you wanted to know something, or if a player wanted to learn something or talk to him, he was always open, a very nice guy, and he would talk to you. But he saved his talking for the ice. He really wasn't a rah-rah guy or a talker off the ice. But like I said, he led by example --- a very intelligent player. Played hard. Good defenseman. He just had an unbelievable stick. That was his biggest asset --- that and his brain.”


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