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 Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

MONTREAL — Wayne Simmonds didn’t feel as though he did anything wrong. Or that he even touched Andrei Markov.
Thing is, however, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may have a different view of it come Tuesday morning.
Early during first-period play Monday night, the Flyers' winger came out of the penalty box after serving a minor for holding and cross-checked Markov from behind.
The Canadiens' defenseman went face-first into the boards and fell to the ice, where he appeared to try and sell a penalty. Nothing came of it, but the hit will likely be reviewed anyway.
“I barely touched him,” Simmonds. “When you got a bunch of guys diving all over the place, what are you going to do? Stand on your feet.”

There were a number of tough hits from both sides in the Flyers' 3-1 loss to the Canadiens (see game recap). It was evenly played and the Flyers deserved a point.
“We played a solid game,” Simmonds said. “Obviously, we lost and it’s not what we wanted but we have four more games this week.
“We go home and we've got to be focused on the positive things that we did and carry it over the rest of the week.”
Gudas eligible
Radko Gudas has yet to play a real game this season.
The Flyers' bruising defenseman has been serving a six-game suspension for a careless hit in Boston that closed out exhibition play earlier this month.
Tuesday night, the Flyers will play the back end of a back-to-back against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center and Gudas likely will return to the lineup now that his suspension has ended.
“It seems like forever,” Gudas said. “I could use more games behind me. I think I’m ready with my conditioning and skill level, so I can’t wait to get back in there.”
The decision as to who comes out will be difficult. A good guess right now would be Nick Schultz.
“We've got the information at this point,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “It will be a tough decision, no question, if we are healthy.”
At some point — Nov. 5 — Michael Del Zotto will be eligible to come off LTIR. That means another veteran blueliner would become available and an even bigger problem will arise because Del Zotto carries a $3.875 million cap hit.
Barring injury or trade, when Del Zotto returns, the Flyers will have to move two players off their roster entirely just to be cap compliant.
For now, following Monday’s loss, Hakstol has to decide whether to stick with his current defense or put Gudas back in. Given the Flyers have missed Gudas’ physical presence — teams have taken liberties on smallish rookie Travis Konecny — it makes sense to reinsert Gudas.
“Obviously, teams are going to take advantage of smaller guys,” Gudas said. “I would love to be out there if anything happened. All the guys here are responsible and I think they did a pretty good job defending that. It’s not happening a lot.”
No, but it’s happened enough that the Flyers should take note of it.
Hakstol said his decision does not have to come until Tuesday.
“That’s not to say we haven’t looked at things and thought about the [issue], but that decision comes after tonight,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gudas finally has come to the conclusion that the NHL is watching his every hit.
“They’re looking at me since Day 1 I got here,” he said. “The guys made up their minds. I have to make sure I don’t give them an opportunity to call again.”
Maybe he should change his ringtone to say, “Player Safety calling.”

Loose pucks
Simmonds and Matt Read saw their four-game goal-scoring streaks come to an end. ... The Flyers were credited with 39 hits, the most they’ve had since 41 in a home game against Montreal on Jan. 5, 2016. Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Schultz were credited with five apiece. ... Ice-time leaders: Ivan Provorov (21:31), Shayne Gostisbehere (21:27) and Brandon Manning (20:36). … Boyd Gordon was 10 for 12 (83 percent) on faceoffs. ... Jakub Voracek had five shots, giving him 21 overall, which ties him for 10th in the league. His goal gave him eight points and ties him with five other players for fourth in the NHL.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

Halapoulivaati Vaitai wasn’t Lane Johnson on Sunday against the Vikings.

But he didn’t look like Halapoulivaati Vaitai either ... at least the version that was a revolving door last week in Washington.

In his NFL debut last week, Big V gave up two sacks, a quarterback hit and a hurry. Against the Vikings, he gave up just one QB hurry.

What led to the change?

“I just think learning from the week before, quite honestly,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. “He really, again, detailed his work during the week. He practiced extremely well. He used his hands better.

“He was able to calm the storm, so to speak, and played a fine football game. He played the type that we saw [in] him and he’s capable of doing. Now it’s something that he can continue to build on.”

While it seemed like Pederson curtailed his offense some to counteract what could be a shaky offensive line, he said it was more about utilizing his team’s strengths. Still, Carson Wentz attempted just four passes that traveled over 20 yards on Sunday and didn’t complete a pass that went more than nine yards in the air.

Despite Vaitai’s scary performance in his debut, Pederson decided to stick to his plan and leave him at right tackle instead of shuffling the offensive line by moving Allen Barbre to tackle and replacing him with Stefen Wisniewski.

The jury is still out on the decision, but the Eagles probably have more confidence in their offensive line for the next eight games of Johnson’s suspension than they did before playing the Vikings.

The Eagles' O-line didn’t give up a sack to the Vikings after giving up five the previous week.

“I thought our guys [Sunday] did a great job of no sacks against a team that had 19 coming in,” Pederson said. “Protected [Wentz], kept him clean and it just gives him confidence now and gives our whole unit confidence moving forward and coming away.”