RALEIGH, N.C. - Now that the All-Star Game is history, forwards Claude Giroux and Danny Briere are focused on putting the finishing touches on the Flyers' so-far-superb season.
"We had a little meeting before we left, and I think it's important that our guys get some rest," said Giroux, who scored his first all-star goal and also contributed an assist in his team's 11-10 loss. "There's not one guy who's not excited about the rest of the season. . . . When you have that run, like last year, you just get more hungry. We were so close last year, and it just makes you want more."
The Flyers, losers to Chicago in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, are No. 1 in the 30-team NHL.
"We've put ourselves in a really good position going down the stretch, but there's still lots of work to be done," Briere said after scoring two goals to help Team Lidstrom notch the wild win.
"Everything ratchets up a notch now," said Peter Laviolette, a co-coach of the all-star winners.
Former Flyer Jeremy Roenick wouldn't be surprised if the Flyers returned to the Finals.
"I think they're incredible," said Roenick, an analyst for the NHL Network. "A lot of people think last year was the luck of the draw for them to get to the Finals, but they're continuing the same kind of dominance. I really love the maturation of Giroux and [James] van Riemsdyk.
"I just think they're a great hockey team, through and through."
Roenick called the goaltending duo of Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher "a really good system for them" and said the Flyers remind him of the Chicago Blackhawks of 1991-92. Roenick scored a career-high 53 goals for that team, one that lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.
"We had kind of the same mentality, a grind-it-out mentality, and guys who could score goals," Roenick said.
Showing their appreciation for Laviolette's directing Carolina to the 2006 Stanley Cup, fans gave the Flyers coach a loud standing ovation when he was introduced as one of the all-star coaches.
"I had chills," Briere said.
Laviolette was touched by the ovation.
"There's a lot of great memories here for me and my family," he said. "When you win a championship, you share it not only with the players . . . but you share it with the fans as well. It was a special year and special time for everybody here in North Carolina."
Carolina forward Jeff Skinner (18 years and 259 days) wasn't just the youngest all-star in NHL history. He was the youngest in any of the four major sports.
No 18-year-olds have played in All-Star Games in major-league baseball, the NBA, or the NFL.