Could deal push Flyers to Cup?

   Do the Flyers need to make a deal before the March 4 trade deadline to bring home their first Stanley Cup since 1975?
   That's the question facing GM Paul Holmgren.
    Head coach John Stevens said Wednesday he doesn't think a deal is necessary. He is happy to play the stretch run _ and the playoffs _ with the solid team Holmgren has assembled.
    Offensively, I agree.
    The Flyers have two of the leagues most dynamic lines, and the third line (Claude Giroux with Scottie Upshall and, for now, Darroll Powe, has been terrific lately.
    And when Danny Briere returns from the injured list _ he'll likely take Powe's spot _ the offense will get even better, especially on the power play.
    Before the season started, the Flyers said if Simon Gagne successfully returned from a concussion, it would be like adding a premier free agent.
    The same can be said now about Briere, who has been limited to nine games this season and is expected back on Wednesday.
    If Briere returns to his old form, it will be like adding a marquee player near the trade deadline _ without having to give up anything.
    So the offense seems set, but the defense could use an experienced, physical player (Chris Pronger?) who would make like easier for Marty Biron and/or Antero Niittymaki.
    Speaking of Biron, he appears to be finding his rhythm. It says here the Flyers can win a Cup with Biron. The last three Cup winners (Carolina, Anaheim and Detroit) didn't exactly have goalies who conjured memories of Bernie Parent.
    Biron showed in last year's first two playoff rounds that he can withstand the post-season pressure.
    Ah, but can his young defensemen?
    His blue-liners have good speed and handle the puck better than last year's defense. But the Flyers will miss the playoff experience that Jason Smith and Derian Hatcher provided _ that is, unless Holmgren can swing a deal.
    With an abundance of offensive talent, he can afford to trade one of his forwards and bring in a bruising defenseman who can  give the blue line more balance.
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   Biron will start Thursday's game against his former team, visiting Buffalo. Earlier this season, Biron made 40 saves as he blanked the Sabres, 3-0. 
   About 500 tickets remain for Thursday night.
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   Stevens has not ruled out putting together a French Connection line in the future: Briere, Giroux and Simon Gagne.
   Long-time fans will remember the Flyers' first Fench Connection: Andre Lacroix, Jean-Guy Gendron and Simon Nolet in the late 1960s.
   And whatever became of Serge Bernier?
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  In the spirit of Gonzo, here's a note that has nothing to do with sports.
  From here, Sunday's Oscar for best picture looks like a two-team race between Slumdog Millionaire and The Reader.
  I'd give Slumdog the nod by a very slim margin.
  Most overlooked film: The Boy in the Striped Pajammas, which had one of the most powerful and draining endings you'll ever see. It was one of the top three movies of the year. And how did Gran Torino not get nominated for best picture? Ditto grumpy (but lovable) Clint Eastwood in the best-actor category.
    OK, off my soapbox.
     _ Sam Carchidi