Since the Philadelphia Flyers signed Danny Briere in 2007, there is no team the 34-year-old center plays better against than his former employer, the Buffalo Sabres. Briere spent four seasons with Buffalo from 2002-07, at which point he quickly emerged as one of the Sabres’ elite players and became a fan favorite but he decided to test the market, eventually signing an eight-year, $52 million contract with Philadelphia. Letting Briere leave is something Buffalo fans are still sour about to this day and are often reminded of it whenever the two teams square off.
Briere has pretty much lived up to his contract during his tenure in Philadelphia and although his regular season numbers are a bit lackluster, his playoff numbers are among the best in the league. In 57 playoff games, he has 29 goals and 30 points – which is just over a point per game. Last season Briere finished with a quiet 66 points but when it came time to step up in the first round of the playoffs Briere answered the call for the second straight year, however this time the opponent was his former team. It was the first time in his career that Briere faced the Sabres in the postseason and he made them pay.
It took seven games to decide the series, with Philadelphia coming out on top thanks in large part to Briere. He finished the series with six goals, one of which came in the deciding game and another that was the game-winning goal in game two in Philadelphia.
The Flyers eventually got swept by the Boston Bruins and it was the Sabres who had the last laugh but that is all in the past as now Briere and the Flyers focus on this season.
The Flyers have battled their fair share of injuries during the first two months of the season, with only a few players have managed to remain healthy, one of which is Briere who – ironically enough – missed the only other meeting so far this season between the Flyers and Sabres, back on Nov. 2.
He has put up 20 points in 23 games which is somewhat of a disappointing start, considering he was one of the few veteran Flyers still wearing the orange and black when the season started. The 5-foot-10 forward is important not only to the Flyers’ second line but to their success on the powerplay and the team hopes he can get on a roll during a month filled with road games – 10 out of 13 games to be exact.
Briere is currently playing though a virus but Wednesday night’s game against the Sabres might be just what the doctor ordered. He goes into the contest having faced off against his former team 18 times –two of which came during his days with Phoenix – and has netted seven goals and tacked on eight helpers. He just seems to get the big goal at the right time against the Sabres. If he is able to come out and have a big game it could perhaps propel him to a hot streak, something the Flyers could certainly use with forwards James van Riemsdyk and Brayden Schenn still battling to get back to full health.
Since Briere is such a defensive liability when he’s not creating chances he can look like a ghost on the ice, which renders him pretty much useless to coach Peter Laviolette. The team certainly isn’t hurting for offense though, as the Flyers have scored more goals this year than any other team in the league but to be successful as the season plays on, Philadelphia will need a healthy and effective Briere.