Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Can speaking French on-ice help?

NEWARK, N.J. -- French, Russian, Swedish. While the first two sound like salad dressings, they're actually languages that you can hear being spoken on an NHL rink nightly. But the language doesn’t matter, does it?

Can speaking French on-ice help?

(Tom Mihalek/AP)<br />
(Tom Mihalek/AP)

NEWARK, N.J. -- French, Russian, Swedish.

While the first two sound like salad dressings, they're actually languages that you can hear being spoken on an NHL rink nightly.

But the language doesn’t matter, does it?

That’s what Simon Gagne was wondering on Wednesday, as reporters pestered him about the nickname of his new line - with fellow Francophones Sean Couturier and Danny Briere - as the “French Connection II.” It did not matter that most in the Flyers’ locker room couldn’t name the original members of Buffalo’s famed line of the same name, but Gagne laughed anyway.

(Or, that the real “French Connection” was a heroin smuggling scheme from France to Turkey to the United States in the 1970’s. But that's a topic for another day.)

“Hopefully having two French guys on the same line will help,” Gagne said. “I have no clue. I don’t think (speaking French) changes much. The only thing it could change is if you’re on a faceoff in the offensive or defensive zone and you want to switch something at the last second - and you don’t have a french guy on the other team - you could speak French and they have no clue what you’re talking about.

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“After that, you know, it doesn’t matter if you’re French, Russian, or Swedish. You just need to find a way to play good today. I guess it’s just having that in coming that in common that makes it a little bit easier.”

Gagne (2 goals), Couturier (2) and Briere (5) have all struggled to score this season, so maybe Peter Laviolette throwing the three of them together will produce success.

“It’s just one switch of two players, just to maybe try and find something offensively,” Laviolette said. “Or a different look for those two guys.”

The Flyers know this home-and-home series with the Devils could make or break their season. Being swept would likely mean the Flyers would need to win 17 of 19 to guarantee a playoff position.

“You don’t want to look too much ahead,” Gagne said. “But you have a chance to beat a team that is ahead of you - not too far ahead - so that could be really big for us.

“If you do well in those two games, you could be in really good shape after that. It could be a huge difference.They’re a great chance for us to get back to where we want. We’ll try and jump on it tonight.”

ODDS AND ENDS: As Ilya Bryzgalov noted after Tuesday’s practice, playoff hopes for the Flyers will look a lot bleaker if they’re not able to at least split this double dip with the Devils.

In Las Vegas, the Flyers’ odds would seem to suggest that they’re on a slippery slope.

According to Bovada.lv:

Only 12 teams have longer odds to win the Stanley Cup than the Flyers (40-1). They are an 18-1 shot to win the Eastern Conference.

Atlantic Division

Pittsburgh Penguins                  2/7
New York Rangers                     11/2
New Jersey Devils                     13/2
Philadelphia Flyers                    15/1
New York Islanders                    66/1

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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Frank Seravalli Daily News Sports Columnist
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