As he usually is, Flyers coach Craig Berube was blunt when asked about his message to the team for the stretch run.

“Play like a team and play defense.”

No one has ever accused the first-year head coach about wavering on what he wants from his players. When he took over for Peter Laviolette three games into the season, it was clear that playing a more defensive system would be the biggest change.

How well the Flyers have adhered to that system, well that part has wavered.

There were big stretches where the Flyers struggled just to leave their own zone with the puck. They think they’ve figured that out now and as they try to retain playoff position in the waning games of the season.

“I think that takes care of a lot of things,” Berube said. “I really believe that defense wins and we need to play like a team every night.”

Reading a little deeper into Berube’s request, which was easy to do with an 18-day stretch between games, he may also be hoping to get defense in a new form.

See, it’s rumor season for the NHL because the trade deadline comes at 3 p.m. next Wednesday.

The Flyers are alleged to be interested in New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who led the NHL in blocked shots by more than 20 entering Thursday’s action. The 27-year-old blueliner is an unrestricted free agent to-be.

He reportedly turned down a four-year, $16 million extension offer from the Isles. On pace to have a career-best year offensively, he likely thinks he’ll attract even more in free agency and his value goes up with each good game.

Other defensemen rumored to be on the trading block are Dallas’ Trevor Daley, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien, Toronto’s Jake Gardiner and Dan Girardi of the Rangers.

As the youngest of the bunch, MacDonald seems like the most-attractive option for the Flyers, because he also averages 25:33 of ice time, eighth in the league.