Zdeno Chara, Danny Briere

Can Zdeno Chara stop Danny Briere’s playoff hot streak?

Danny Briere isn’t a big guy – he’s generously listed at 5-foot-10, 179 lbs. Yet the crafty forward comes up especially large in games of the hugest importance. Just take a look at the 91 points he’s scored in the playoffs since the lockout ended … that’s the highest total of any player in the NHL during that span.

Briere was the catalyst for the Flyers’ first round comeback, scoring three goals and one assist in those two elimination games and six goals and one assist for seven points in the seven-game series. He also got under the skin of his former teammate, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

Along with having great hands and outstanding offensive creativity, Briere scores a lot of his points by sneaking his way in front of the net. That’s a pretty admirable quality for an undersized forward because it opens him up to the savage abuse that comes with that territory.

In other words, it means that he’ll need to absorb plenty of hits from Boston Bruins’ behemoth Zdeno Chara. Chara is seven feet tall on skates, but as CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio points out, he couldn’t intimidate Briere in their 2010 semifinals series.

Briere scored five goals and five assists for 10 points in that seven-game series, a hot run that helped the small forward score a league-leading 30 points in last year’s playoffs. Chara is just starting to feel like his usual all-world self again after fighting dehydration in the first round, so perhaps it will be a tall order for the much larger player. Briere spoke to Panaccio about going up against the imposing blueliner.

“You have to find ways to make him work,” Briere said of Chara. “It is not going to be easy and we know that. I have had the chance to face him a few times in the playoffs.

“He is going to make it tough on us, but we are not going to back down. That is the only way to approach it and you have to be willing to compete against him.

“Probably to try and go around him and make him work. When you are as big as him, it uses a lot of energy to try to chase you. I guess that is the idea with a guy like Chara.”

Of course, Briere isn’t the only Flyers forward Chara must worry about, but he’s been Philly’s most explosive offensive performer for at least the last two playoff runs. It’s obvious which player is larger in the literal sense, but one of the series’ biggest factors boils down to who will come up the biggest in a figurative way.

Blues put Berglund on LTIR, use savings to sign Gomez

Scotte Gomez
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As was the case last season, Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer because he went unsigned over the summer and once again he has used that opportunity to extend his career.

The St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed Gomez to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but it’s a two-way deal that comes with a base salary of $575K at the NHL level, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

In order to free up the space necessary to sign him, St. Louis moved Patrik Berglund to the long-term injured reserve list. Berglund had shoulder surgery in August and isn’t expected to be available until January.

Gomez, 35, is coming off of a resurgence campaign where he recorded 34 points in 58 games on a Devils’ team that finished near the bottom of the pack offensively. The two-time Stanley Cup champion will be bringing more than a 1,000 games worth of NHL experience to St. Louis.

He’s not the only veteran forward to make the team off of a PTO as the Blues signed Scottie Upshall on Monday.

NHL key dates for the 2015-16 season

Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares
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Nov. 10 —  NHL General Managers Meeting (Toronto)

At last year’s November meetings, the GMs decided to kill the dry scrape. But these meetings usually serve as a table-setter for the rest of the season. It’s the more in-depth meetings in March where the majority of things get decided.

Nov. 27 — NHL Thanksgiving Showdown: Rangers at Bruins

The first of 12 “NHL on NBC” games in 2015-16. Click here for the full list, including the games on NBCSN.

Dec. 7-8 — NHL Board of Governors Meeting (Pebble Beach)

This is where we could find out about expansion. Will both Las Vegas and Quebec City get the nod? Only one of them? Neither of them?

Jan. 1 — Winter Classic: Canadiens at Bruins

From Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Please don’t make any “deflated pucks” jokes. You’re better than that.

Jan. 28-Feb. 1 — All-Star Break

This year’s festivities are being held in Nashville, which is a pretty fun town we hear. Skills competition on Saturday the 30th, game on Sunday the 31st. Over/under has been set at 25 goals and 60 percent effort.

Feb. 29 — NHL trade deadline

Leap day! Click here for a list of pending unrestricted free agents, a.k.a. potential rentals.

Mar. 14-16 — NHL General Managers Meeting (Boca Raton)

As mentioned, these are the more in-depth meetings where any recommendations are typically made. Last season, the GMs recommended 3-on-3 overtime and a coach’s challenge.

Apr. 9 — Last day of the regular season

All 30 teams in action on this Saturday. Playoffs begin four days later on Wednesday. Also, the draft lottery’s date is still to be determined, but should be held sometime around here.

June 18 — Last possible day for the Stanley Cup Final

Click here for PHT’s Cup picks.

June 24-25 — NHL draft

In Buffalo this year. Click here for Central Scouting’s “players to watch” list, led by Auston Matthews.

July 1 — Free agency begins

And then it’s summer.