Exit Interview: Justin Braun and the Flyers couldn’t fill the hole on defense
Justin Braun unexpectedly had a lot on his plate this season. The Philadelphia Flyers failed to adequately replace the hole in their top-four on defense and Braun was forced into that role. He held his own, but it wasn’t enough in a season full of defensive breakdowns and poor goaltending.
The Flyers missed the playoffs and closed out their season earlier than expected this year. They finished the season with a win on Monday, May 10th, then held their end-of-season media availability on Tuesday.
Alain Vigneault and Chuck Fletcher both spoke about the big picture and larger issues plaguing this Flyers team. After that, the players took to the podium for their exit interviews.
Alain Vigneault talkin’ ’bout practice, wanting a ‘normal season,’ and letting ‘everyone down’
Chuck Fletcher: Flyers will be ‘creative’ to ‘upgrade everywhere’ in crucial offseason
This week, we’ll be going through those exit interviews with full transcripts and quotes. We’ll dig into any interesting tidbits at the end.
Justin Braun Exit Interview
Can you tell us the injury yesterday and how long are you going to be out for?
Yeah, it was a broken (left) foot. Just shot from the point. Put my foot square to it and hit it pretty good. So should be pretty standard broken bone, four weeks, and should be fine. So nothing, nothing too crazy about it.
Are you surprised this team missed Matt Niskanen so much? Do you look at that as maybe a breakdown of a lot of areas, not just the defenseman?
I think he left a very big hole in the back end. We had a pretty good setup with roles and what guys were doing last year and the stability back there. Losing a guy like that, you lose that steadiness night in, night out. Who your partner is going to be? We’re bouncing around a lot trying to find chemistry. That’s on the remaining guys to step up and fill that hole. We just didn’t do it. You end up in that situation where you are switching partners a lot because you’re not playing well enough with the guy you have or just not having that chemistry. It’s just on the guys left. You got to step up when guys go down or leave or get traded. It’s just the way it works.
What can you tell young players to help them take the next step next season?
I honestly would tell them you got to put the work in the summer. It’s one of those things you got to think about it for a while but then put it aside and kind of not turn this into work. You got to enjoy it. You got to have fun and that’s when you’re going to have the best success. When you’re showing up to the rink and enjoying it like you were as a kid. It’s when it gets stressful, you’re losing sleep at night and you just got to go back to that, that younger mind. Enjoy your summer training. Get out there work on things, but not make it work.
Can you recall when you were maybe a younger player facing some adversity and it really driving you into an offseason to have a better year next year?
Yeah, I had a few of those. Had some pretty long meetings with Doug couple times and you just kind of got to reset. Take what they tell you and really work on it. All these GMs and coaches have been around forever and they have a pretty good feel of what your game is. The advice you’re going to get in these exit meetings and from assistant coaches and everything, take that to heart and don’t forget it after two weeks and start working on something else. It’s those little details that are gonna make the biggest difference going into next year.
Braun was one of the more consistent Flyers defensemen this season and he played his role until the final game, when he broke his foot blocking a shot.
Braun spoke about the Flyers’ obvious defensive struggles. “We just didn’t do it” is a pretty good way to sum up how the Flyers replaced Matt Niskanen. Now, I don’t think that Niskanen would have saved the season, but Braun detailed the impact that struggles can have on the rest of the defense. They’ll need that stability back next season.
Braun has one more year left on his contract. Ideally, he’ll be in a third-pair role for the Flyers next season.
Transcript via Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers Exit Interviews
Nicolas Aube-Kubel toeing the line in Flyers’ bottom-six
Justin Braun and the Flyers couldn’t fill the hole on defense
Has Sean Couturier thought about a future with the Flyers?
Has Brian Elliott played his last game with the Flyers?