Daniel Briere has one assist in the Eastern Conference final. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Maybe Daniel Briere should have a little chat with fictional Philadelphia legend Rocky Balboa about how to rally in late rounds.
Briere soared through two playoff series this year, posting eight goals and 14 points in 12 games.
But he's 0-for-3 in the conference final and, at least partially because of that, so is his team.
Last year, Briere posted 12 points in 11 games through two rounds with Buffalo. But the Sabres, like Philly, lost the first three games of the East final versus Ottawa and Briere contributed just one point in those contests.
When the going gets tough, the $10-million men have to get going.
Hoss heats up
Did you catch the way Marian Hossa weaved through the ice before beating Martin Biron with a wicked low shot?
The stunned Flyers players looked like they didn't know Downie from Upshall.
Hossa has five goals in his past four games and eight overall this post-season through 12 contests. So much for spring being his least favorite time of year.
It's easy to say playing with Sidney Crosby is the reason why Hossa is finally excelling in the crunch, but the real reason is…OK, who's Sid the Kidding who, playing with Crosby probably has a lot to do with it.
But in the name of alternative thinking, we'll throw out a couple other options:
• While Ottawa also had other quality offensive players to take the pressure off Hossa, Sens coach Jacques Martin instilled a defense-first approach and that, to some degree, put the cuffs on his big horses.
• Hossa has simply come of age. Hey, sometimes it takes a while and the big Slovak may finally, at age 29, have embraced the fact springtime requires finding another gear.
A Fleury of problems
Most people believe goalie equipment should be downsized, but my bet is Pens coach Michel Therrien would love to add another item to Marc-Andre Fleury's ensemble; a tether chord that won't allow him to move more than two feet from either side of his crease.
Every time the young stopper plays the puck, it's an adventure. Pittsburgh needs just-don't-kill-us goaltending from Fleury and about the only time he doesn't provide it is when he goes wandering.
Stand and deliver
I'm starting to believe Jordan Staal cannot be knocked off his skates. He reminds me of a huge buoy bobbing in the waves of Lake Superior near his Thunder Bay home; Staal bends, twists and folds, but always snaps back upright without ever getting turned over.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.
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