One Final Goodbye to Danny Briere

One Final Goodbye to Danny Briere

By rule, compliance buyouts are allowed to be filed 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, which means Ilya Bryzgalov’s and Danny Briere’s walking papers are surely official by now. The two of them are no longer Flyers, and cannot re-sign with the club even though they become free agents along with everybody else on July 5.

Bryz won’t be missed. People will forget that he set the franchise record for consecutive shutout minutes in 2012, his only lasting legacy on the ice in two seasons of dressing in Orange & Black. Instead he’ll be remembered most of all for being a space cadet on HBO’s ‘24/7,’ his constant feuding with the Philadelphia media, and the insane buyout it took to dump him.

Briere is a different story. He spent six seasons with the Flyers, racking up 283 points in 364 regular season games. True, he could be a liability at times in his own end, but he was always a threat to score or create chances for teammates. By all accounts Briere was a gentleman off the ice as well, and somehow always knew the right thing to say whether it was after a tough loss or in general.

But where Danny Briere really built his Flyers legacy was in the postseason. We know this because when we asked you to share your favorite Briere moments, time and time again they were from the playoffs. There was the time he gave Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller a “love tap” on the head after beating him in a Game 7 in 2011. There was his goal to tie the score in Game 7 in Boston when they were coming back to win the series from down 3-0. That was in 2010 during their run to the Cup Finals, where he found twine to temporarily give Philly the lead in Game 6, although that didn’t quite have a fairy-tale ending.

Briere led the NHL in postseason points that year with a whopping 30, and he might have done so a few more times had the Flyers been able to go deeper more often. In all, No. 48 logged 37 goals and 35 assists in 68 playoff games here – better than a point per game. The man really knew how to turn it on when it counted most.

Not just turn it on, but take over. The Bullies posted a 21-10 record in playoff games where Briere lit the lamp at least once, 5-1 when he found the back of the net twice. They were 13-24 when Briere failed to get on the board. In the 2011 postseason, the Flyers didn’t win a single game where he wasn’t able to score. That’s the sign of a true difference maker right there.

Those were the best Danny Briere moments – any time he was scoring big goals in big games – because that’s what he does best. October through the beginning of April, Briere was a nice player. He always saved the best for last though, when the Stanley Cup was on the line.

That’s when Briere will be missed. With a $6.5 million cap hit that was the highest on the team, his numbers in steep decline and injuries on the rise as he closes in on 36 years of age, amnestying Briere made total sense. The Flyers had to do it. But man, what you wouldn’t give to have him on your side for one last Cup run, because if you could count on one thing from Briere, you were going to see a whole lot of that trademark fist pump along the way.

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Gudas

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Gudas

There are good penalties. And bad penalties. And penalties which aren’t even penalties.

The last one would perfectly describe Radko Gudas’ hip check on Miles Wood that was whistled as clipping by referee Dan O’Halloran in the second period.

Even Wood was laughing as Gudas went to the box, realizing what a break he had gotten – a power play for nothing.

“He’s a pretty quick D-man,” Wood said. “I don’t think it should have been a call, but it was a good hit by him.”

That gave the Devils a power play. Then, when Wayne Simmond argued the call with O'Halloran, Simmonds drew two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The resulting 5-on-3 New Jersey power play saw the Devils score to break a 1-1 tie.

Minutes later, the Flyers had a bad line change and it was 3-1. Game over. The Devils would go on to win, 4-1 (see game story).

Bottom line? The Gudas call changed everything.

“I was really surprised,” Gudas said. “I didn’t think it was a penalty at all.”

Is this oversimplifying the game to say everything changed with that one call?

“Are we really simplifying it?” Gudas asked. “I think that after those calls we have to get together as a group and make sure we kill these off. Unfortunately, we let them score on that power play. It was just unlucky.”

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol called it “an excellent hit” by Gudas. He wouldn’t go deeper than that.

The six muffed power plays gave him enough reason to believe the Flyers could have gotten back in it. His Flyers are 3-9-3 since winning 10 games.

You can’t underestimate how those two calls turned the tables on the Flyers in this game.

“Everyone has their own opinion on the hit and we were obviously frustrated on the hit,” Travis Konecny said. “We thought it was a clean hit and we reacted to it. We have everyone’s backs.

“We have all had the one’s where we are angry with the ref and the one who made a hit like that. There is a time for that moment there.”

Goalie Michal Neuvirth thought it was a difference maker.

“Oh, absolutely, we were playing better in the second period,” he said. “I thought we had a momentum. You know stuff like that 5-on-3 for two minutes, it’s tough to defend.

“I think it’s taking way too many penalties lately and you got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders are on quite a nice roll.

Anders Lee scored two power-play goals to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, giving New York its third straight win and fourth in the last five games.

"We've been keeping it simple of late," said Lee, who has four goals in two games against the Kings this season. "We've been getting shots on net and being more effective. I'll do my thing down low."

John Tavares had a goal and an assist, Jason Chimera also scored and Jean-Francois Berube stopped 34 shots to earn his first win in his third start of the season (see full recap).

Hartnell snaps tie as Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Blue Jackets would just as soon forget the second period of Saturday's game, when the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie it.

Columbus didn't play much better in the third but withstood 15 shots and killed three penalties. Midway through, Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game , and the Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2.

Columbus got the win despite being outshot 37-20.

Hartnell scored in the first period and then netted the tiebreaker, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a horrendous second period - in which they managed only two shots on goal - to beat Carolina for the second time this week (see full recap).

Beagle scores in overtime, Capitals beat Stars 4-3
DALLAS -- Jay Beagle scored 19 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Saturday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov skated behind the net and put the puck in front to Beagle. His wrist shot beat goalie Kari Lehtonen, who got tangled with a defender and lost his footing.

The Stars led 3-1 and didn't allow Washington a power play until the third period, but then Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie scored with the man advantage in the first 5:26 of the period.

Adam Cracknell and Jamie Benn scored for Dallas on plays that originally were ruled no goal. Patrick Eaves had a goal and an assist for the Stars (see full recap).

Bogosian scores in overtime, Sabres edge Canadiens 3-2
MONTREAL -- The Sabres couldn't score from in close on All-Star goalie Carey Price late in regulation Saturday night.

So Zach Bogosian teed it up from a ways out in overtime to lift Buffalo.

Bogosian scored his first goal of the season in overtime and the Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Buffalo nearly broke through against Price near the end of the third period. Price made a pad save on Matt Moulson on a breakaway at 19:40, and then with six seconds remaining, he robbed Rasmus Ristolainen with a windmill glove save (see full recap).