Currently I think we all agree that the Flyers defense needs retooling, or reworking. Whilst our defense hasn't been the largest issue all year, I don't find too many posters who are comfortable with what we have. Is it simply a talent problem or do we have the wrong make up for the modern NHL (Eastern Conference)?
This is the question I would like to pose to the masses. My thoughts are continued in this post. Read on at your leisure.
Firstly I think you need at least one puck moving defenseman on each pairing (preferably two on the first pair) with your top two pairings having proficiency in both carrying the puck and moving it via outlet passes. The game is a lot faster now than ever before and with no grabbing, hooking, clutching, you must be able to skate to keep up with oncoming rushes, or in the Flyers case, catch the players following the inevitable turnover. Puck movement is crucial to getting the team out of the redzone and into the neutral and then attacking zones. I believe Berube is attempting to do this with Timonen, Streit and Gustaffson all on the separate pairings. I would class each of these players as puck movers. Ideally these would also be classed as offensive defensemen who can play PP and also put up points 5 on 5.
Secondly I feel your stay at home defensemen should be limited to 2 maximum. This enables you to put them on a third pairing or split them on the bottom two pairings and still unite them for the PK. I would even argue that you only need 1 stay at home defensemen. The flyers currently have two stay at home defensemen in Grossman and Schenn.
Finally, you have what I refer to as a Hybrid defensemen who can move the puck, skate well and play great defense. Coburn is the flyers hybrid defensemen. He doesn't put up a lot of points, but he is proficient at moving the puck and skating all over the ice. I would argue that having this type of defensemen can negate the need for stay at home defenders who can be slow and cumbersome. Again these players aren't point producers just really good athletic ability which allows them to skate well, use their stick defensively and move the puck offensively.
So my ideal defense corpse make up would have 2 Puck Moving Offensive Defenders (1 on top pair and 1 on 3rd pair), 3 Hybrid defenders (1 on each pair) and 1 Defensive Defender (2nd Pair Calibre).
So my Pairings would be
Pair 1: Offensive Defender / Hybrid Defender
Pair 2: Hybrid Defender / Stay at Home Defender
Pair 3: Offensive Defender / Hybrid Defender
This way your top pairing is proficient at moving the puck and can be used with your top two scoring lines and push the play forward and out of your red zone. The second pairing can be used in more defensive roles and is your main shutdown pairing. They are able to move the puck to assist in keeping the puck in the neutral and offensive zones. . The third pairing can be used with the lower two forward lines to help push the play forward and capitalise with shots from the point following cycles and board play down low from the checking lines.
In all honesty, I think the Flyers have a good D corpse, but just lack some ability when compared to others. Timonen in his prime would make a massive difference but they still have put together a solid group. I think Berube has implemented a system that suits our strengths (you might say weaknesses) on defense and if we can retool in the next couple of seasons when Timonen, Mezaros leave with the right pieces, we should finally be able to put forth a solid defensive unit.