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Briere, JvR Ring in the New Year Right

Daniel Briere and James van Riemsdyk had rough starts to the 2011-12 season.

Both players had to battle through injuries and were not producing the way that many had hoped they would.

For Briere, coming off last season where he scored the second most points and goals on the team, many expected him to be the team’s leading goal scorer.

After an impressive performance in last season’s playoffs (seven goals in 11 games) as well as a lucrative new contract, many expected van Riemsdyk to be a central force in the Flyers lineup.

Instead, fans often had a hard time locating the two players who had been largely invisible.

However, since the calendar has flipped over to 2012, the two players have seemed to flip with it.

Against the Chicago Blackhawks, van Riemsdyk powered the Flyers to a 5-4 victory by scoring two goals, the second of which came with 52 seconds left in regulation to break a 4-4 tie.

In the team’s Saturday afternoon game against the Ottawa Senators, van Riemsdyk looked like he did at the end of last season; strong puck movement, physical play, aggressive forechecking and power moves to the net are all examples of how the young forward made his presence felt early and often.

"I don't think I have felt this comfortable and confident on the ice as I have at points last year,” he said after Thursday’s game against Chicago.

Briere also showed glimpses of his former self against the Senators. Exploding with three goals (the final of which came with five seconds remaining in overtime), he single handedly fueled the team’s 3-2 victory.

In his last 16 games prior to the outburst on Saturday, he had only scored three goals.

While he had figuratively been down on his luck, it only took a literal fall to get his blood boiling.

At the end of the second period, Briere challenged Kyle Turris to a fight when the Senator hit him while he was down.

"I thought that that was a cheap shot on his part. He kind of came down with a cross check to the head when I was in a vulnerable position on the ice,” Briere said. “I thought that was not a fair shot. I had to do something about it."

It was his first fight since 2009.

For a player not known for his physical play, Briere put forth a complete effort that energized both his team and the crowd.

“Inspiring. It inspired me,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of the performance. “He came out and he was skating and he was in the battles and getting knocked around and taking some and giving some. A fight, three goals won it with half a dozen seconds left on the clock. It was a terrific, terrific effort by him.”

When Jaromir Jagr went down with an injury at the Winter Classic, a problem presented itself. With much of the team’s offensive production coming from the top line, questions arose as to how the Flyers were going to make up the scoring.

Two games into the Jagr injury and Briere and van Riemsdyk have already come up with the answer.


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