Five Questions: Can Briere return to his typical postseason clutch form?

Daniel Briere

Image courtesy Zimbio.com

Flyers Faithful is pleased to have Kevin Christmann from Of Ice and Men, Danny Ricciardi from The Orange Update, Kevin Keating from Broad Street Buzz, and our own Craig Forsythe participate in the current iteration of Five Questions. This is the first of a five part series focusing on the playoffs. 

By most measures, Danny Briere has had a disappointing regular season. Can he return to his typical postseason clutch form?

Kevin Christmann: I am a very calculated, mathematical person; and that has turned me into someone that doesn’t really believe in “clutch”. I’m of the opinion that given enough playoff games, almost everyone would end up scoring at the same rate they normally do during the regular season. Unfortunately, very few players ever accumulate enough playoff games to have a significant sample size. For that reason, I was never one to criticize someone for not being “clutch”.

That said, Danny Briere is an exception to me. When he was brought here as a free agent, I remember hearing about how “clutch” he was; and I wrote it off as nonsense like I normally would. After 4 seasons of seeing it with my own eyes time and time again, he’s convinced me that he is one of the very few players that genuinely do elevate their game come playoffs. It’s for that reason that I am confident Briere will return to form in the playoffs. Will he have a playoffs like he did 2 seasons ago? Doubtful. He is getting old after all; but I do expect him to resemble the Danny Briere we’ve grown accustomed to.

Danny Ricciardi: Anytime I hear someone talking about Danny Briere and his season-long struggles, I immediately resort to defending him as “Mr. Playoffs.” Let’s face it, fans this season are disappointed, and rightfully so (his 16G, 27A through 67GP are not close to his 34G, 34A from last season). But you have to feel confident about Briere turning up his level of play in the postseason, as he always has in the past. Other than James van Riemsdyk, Briere might have been the best Flyer during the short playoff run last year (7G, 2A in 11GP). And during the 2010 run to the Cup, he registered 12G, 18A in 23GP. I mean c’mon, he’s averaging nearly a point per game over his career in the playoffs (96P in 97GP). Sure, he’s been snake bitten for most of this year, but what we’ve noticed is no drop off in his style of play. Briere is still being his quick, sneaky self up and down the ice, and his game hasn’t changed one bit. He’s doing the right things, and if you keep putting yourself in those high-percentage scoring areas, as he always does, the production will come.

Kevin Keating: Danny Briere is king of the 82 game warm up. Yes his regular season has been sub par, but the thing about Briere is that he always steps it up in the middle of April.  Obviously it’s a cause for concern as to whether or not he will pick his game up yet again, or continue his downward spiral.  Briere has a knack for playing well when it matters.

Craig Forsythe: After his performance against the Montreal Canadiens, I say yes. The Habs are the worst team in the Eastern Conference, but Briere most likely gained a lot of confidence from his two-goal effort. His second goal isn’t the Briere we’ve seen for the last 30 games. If he scores a couple more goals before the end of the season, I think we’ll see the Briere we saw in the 2010 playoffs. Looking at the 2009-2010 regular season and 2010 playoffs is another reason to believe Briere will step up in the playoffs. After he posted his lowest goal total in a season where he played 75 games or more for his career, Briere set the club record for points in a single postseason with 12 goals and 18 assists in 30 games. With this in mind, I think Danny can come through in the clutch.