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Playoff Games in Montreal Special for Gagne, Briere

Wednesday, 05.19.2010 / 6:26 PM / News
By Brian Compton  - Staff Writer
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Playoff Games in Montreal Special for Gagne, Briere
Danny Briere and Simon Gagne used to dream about playoff games in Montreal. They\'ll play one Thursday -- but as members of the Philadelphia Flyers.
(Montreal, Quebec) - Growing up in the province of Quebec, it's nights like the one Danny Briere and Simon Gagne will experience on Thursday that they used to dream about as children.
The French-Canadian stars will take the Bell Centre ice in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals as members of the Philadelphia Flyers, who hold a 2-0 lead in this best-of-7 series. Even though neither will be cheered for by the capacity crowd on, it certainly won't make the experience any less special.
"Obviously, I grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan," said Briere, who hails from Gatineau, Que. "To come back in this building is always a little easier motivation, I guess. The history of the team … we have all of our family and friends watching from even closer now. It makes it easier to find that motivation."
Philadelphia Flyers' Simon Gagne, right, checks Montreal Canadiens' Roman Hamrlik, of Czech Republic, in the second period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 18, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Thursday marks the second time in three postseasons that the Flyers have faced the Canadiens. Philadelphia eliminated Montreal in five games in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals in a series Gagne was forced to miss due to an injury.
But Gagne is healthy enough to play this time around -- and the Flyers haven't lost since he returned from a foot injury in time for Game 4 of Philadelphia's historic second-round series win against the Bruins which saw the Flyers win four straight games after dropping the first three.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Gagne, a Ste. Foy, Que., native. "In my case, it's my first time playing against the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. Two years ago, we had a chance to come here and play them. I was hurt, so I was unable to get the feeling of what it is to face the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs, especially here in Montreal. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be really fun. I have a lot of family and friends coming to the game."
Briere was healthy and 2008 and played a big role for the Flyers that postseason. In 17 playoff games, the highly-skilled forward had 9 goals and 7 assists. Philadelphia beat Montreal but lost in the conference finals to Pittsburgh.
Now, he's back -- and fully prepared for what's coming from the capacity crowd at the Bell Centre.
"We all know about all the boos that has been going on the past few years," Briere said on Wednesday afternoon. "That's extra motivation when you jump on the ice. As soon as I found out that we were playing Montreal, I got real excited about it. I've always said I wanted to experience what it was to play against Montreal (in the playoffs) at least once in my career. This is my second chance. I'm just grateful for the chance to play here in the playoffs."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette certainly can appreciate the excitement level of both Briere and Gagne having a chance to play Stanley Cup Playoff games in Montreal. The focus, however, must be on the task at hand.
"I hope that they're excited," Laviolette said. "I hope they play great with lots of energy. I'm sure they're excited coming back here to play, but the focus is on a win."
That's all Philadelphia has done since Gagne returned to the lineup. The former first-round draft choice (1998) has brought tremendous balance to the Flyers since his return and scored another big goal on Tuesday night in the team's 3-0 win against the Canadiens in Game 2.
Overall, Gagne has 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists) in 10 games this postseason.
"We all saw the goals over the last few games," Briere said. "Against Boston, we were 0-3 when he wasn't playing and 6-0 since he's back in the lineup. Yes, he's scored some big goals. But it's more than that. Just his presence in the lineup changes everything. We were having that discussion when he was just about to come back. I was trying to convince him at first, even if you can't play, just to sit on the bench just to have his presence there. You add a player like that to your lineup, it changes everything. It makes everyone a lot more dangerous all of a sudden."
Even though they failed to score, the Canadiens looked extremely dangerous in the opening period on Tuesday night. They peppered Michael Leighton with 16 shots, but the Flyers' goaltender managed to record his second straight shutout and extended his remarkable streak to 165:50.

But Philadelphia can't possibly expect Leighton to do this alone.
"We have to realize that if we play the same way, it's not going to be good enough," Briere said. "We have to realize that. We all know. I fully expect us to come out a little harder."




1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43


J. Voracek 62 19 45 4 64
C. Giroux 61 18 41 2 59
W. Simmonds 62 24 18 -2 42
M. Streit 62 8 32 -4 40
B. Schenn 62 12 23 -3 35
S. Couturier 62 12 14 -2 26
M. Del Zotto 50 7 17 -7 24
M. Read 62 5 18 -9 23
M. Raffl 47 13 3 4 16
V. Lecavalier 44 7 9 -9 16
S. Mason 11 13 7 .925 2.26
R. Emery 10 10 4 .893 3.15
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