Being in the Western NY area, I predicted the Buffalo Sabres' demise this season when they lost Danny Briere.
He is a difference maker.
There are difference makers—quiet team leaders—who introduce themselves to the rest of the NHL in the playoffs.
How many games in Buffalo's quest for the cup did he score with less than a minute left to give the Sabres a victory? He takes everyone's game to another level.
You don't need Kate Smith singing the National Anthem if you have Danny Briere (although I am a firm believer in hockey superstition—I call it hockey tradition).
The young guns from Buffalo were misguided and misdirected this year. They played a scattered hockey game. The Philadelphia Flyers are focused and it starts with Danny Briere's leadership from the locker room to the ice. He is surrounded with quality players who are stepping up their game because they BELIEVE.
They believe they can wreak havoc on the NHL scoring champion-Alexander Ovechkin. They believe that Cristobal Huet can be rattled if they start peppering pucks at him all night long. Sergei Fedorov is older, and just because he has the Stanley Cup rings, he doesn't have the hunger that the Flyers do.
The city of Philadelphia is hungry—and Lord Stanley is the only guest they want at that dinner.
Last weekend, on the NHL Network, I watched the 1975 playoff game between the Sabres and the Flyers at the old AUD in Buffalo. There were no fancy helmets, no flashy fans or jerseys. Bob Kelly, Bill Clement, Rick MacLeish, and Bernie Parent reminded the Flyer fans of the glory days of the last Stanley Cup.
Lord Stanley, you have a standing invitation on Broad Street. Flyer fans would like you to stay—permanently.