Philadelphia Flyers forward Daniel Briere was named a replacement on the All-Star team today, taking the place of Calgary forward Jarome Iginla, who is dropping out of the event because of personal reasons.
You could argue that there aren't many players more deserving than the diminutive forward who leads the Eastern Conference's best team with 24 goals and 41 points. In addition to his point totals, few players have been more clutch than Briere, who has five game-winning goals to his credit. This will be his second trip to the NHL's All-Star game. He was selected as a member of the Buffalo Sabres during the '06-'07 season.
But what makes an All-Star is not only an individual's effort, but also the impact they have on their teammates.
Look no further than Danny Briere. The Flyers line of Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino and Briere has been a constant scoring threat all season long, with the trio all registering 30 or more points. Briere's strong play this season has revitalized Hartnell's game, who has already tallied 15 goals, one more than he scored all of last season. Briere can also be credited with helping make last years mid-season acquisition of Ville Leino by GM Paul Holmgren a success. Leino has blossomed since putting on the Orange and Black, including setting a rookie playoff scoring record during last year's cup run.
Briere has been injury-plagued in recent seasons, playing through nagging groin injuries since signing a long-term contract with the Flyers before the '07-'08 season. Through just 43 games this season, Briere has almost already surpassed his goal total of 26 in 75 games last season.
Of course, we should have seen Briere's monster season coming. During Philadelphia's run to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring Briere made a strong case for the Conn Smythe Trophy by registering an astounding 30 points, including 12 goals in 23 playoff games. He lost out on the award to the Hawks' Jonathan Toews, but his impressive playoff performance has clearly carried over to this season.
Briere is on pace for a career high 44 goals and 75 points, which would be his most productive season in Philadelphia. Whether he stays on a 40-goal pace remains to be seen, but there is no denying that he deserves to be an All-Star.
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