April 29, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere (48) during post game press conference after game one of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers defeated the Devils, 4-3 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE
Just as he has done so many times before in the postseason Briere 'answered the bell' when his team needed him most, further establishing himself as Philadelphia's "Mr. Clutch".
In addition to Giroux's unbelievable six-goal, 14-point rampage, Philly also got another big contribution from a Flyer who is used to coming up big at this time of the year, namely Danny Briere.
The 34-year-old lit up Marc-Andre Fleury for five goals and eight points in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the second straight year Briere had a huge first round. He has notched at least one point in all but one playoff game thus far.
In 2011, he scored six goals and seven points against his former teammates in a seven-game triumph over the Buffalo Sabres, but managed just a goal and an assist as the Flyers were ousted in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
In his fifth spring in Philadelphia, the man that set the franchise mark with 30 points during the club's 2010 run to the Stanley Cup Finals is proving he has no intentions of a short-lived playoffs this year.
After scoring a goal in regulation against the New Jersey Devils, Briere appeared to have scored at 2:13 of overtime. The goal was eventually waved off when video replays showed he had kicked the puck past Martin Brodeur, but little more than two minutes later, the man becoming known as "Mr. Clutch" scored another that would count.
"He's been doing it his whole career," said Giroux after the game. "He is clutch. He is the guy we count on, and his line was unbelievable tonight. Him, James (van Riemsdyk) and Jake (Voracek) did great. They are fast. They can skate. It was pretty cool to watch them play."
Briere's point blast with winger van Riemsdyk planted squarely in front of Brodeur found its way past the New Jersey goaltender and into the net, setting off a jubilant celebration with his teammates and 19,972 rabid supporters at the Wells Fargo Center.
He is a difference-maker, plain and simple, and his Flyers mates, to a man, pointed out that fact.
"You see the guys that have that success during the regular season, but for whatever reason, come playoff time, step up and take their game to the next level," said linemate van Riemsdyk. "He has done that time after time in the playoffs."
On the opposite flank than van Riemsdyk is Voracek, who assisted on both Briere goals. Trailing 1-0 and being outplayed in the second period, the pair teamed up for a goal that breathed a bit of life into a very flat club. Voracek found Briere up the middle behind Devils defenseman Peter Harrold to spring the forward for a breakaway, and he beat Brodeur to get Philadelphia going offensively.
"Everyone knows what kind of playoff players JVR and Danny B. are, and they showed it again today," said Voracek. "We had a lot of scoring chances and it's a good thing we got that overtime goal."
After suffering through perhaps his worst full season since coming to Philadelphia -- with just 16 goals and 49 points in 70 contests -- Briere picked up where he left off in the last postseason. He now is tied with Giroux for the NHL-lead in playoff goals with seven, and has moved into second place in the postseason points race with 10 (behind only Giroux's 15).
For his career, Briere has 49 playoff goals, 13 of which are game-winners (nine with the Flyers).
His pair of tallies Sunday now gives him 26 goals and 49 points in his last 41 postseason games, dating back to the start of the 2009-10 playoffs.
"I think through the course of any season, players they go through ups and downs," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Danny has been a successful player for our team since I've been here. When it gets to the playoffs, this is a guy that takes off. We were just talking about it in the office there, to put up the amount of points that he has in the playoffs speaks volumes to him as a player because that's what playoffs are about, why we're here, and that's what matters. He's a guy that has consistently gotten it done, not just this year or two years ago, or in his career but he does it game after game. I think everybody expects that from him."
Summing up what Briere means to his team, his coach went a little further.
"I think some people rise to big occasions," Laviolette continued. "I'm not saying it because he scored a goal (Sunday), he's done it his whole career. When you've had that many points in that many games, it speaks to the player, not a game. I think through the course of history in sports, there are people that answer the bell. When things are on the line, there are certain people that answer the bell."
Once again on Sunday afternoon in South Philly, Briere was the one to answer that bell. Just as he's done for so long at the most critical time of the year.
Constantly hearing how he responds in the face of pressure, Briere sees it a bit differently.
"I grew up watching playoff hockey and when I was a kid, I always dreamed that one day I'd have the chance to play in those big games," he said. "When I have the opportunity like I have this year, and like I've had the past few years in the playoffs, you try to make the best of it and try to enjoy it as much as possible. It's not really pressure. It's actually a fun time, exciting time."