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Don't forget to thank a vet

by Phil Coffey
CHICAGO -- The customary roar that accompanies the "Star Spangled Banner" at United Center prior to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final Monday night will be just a bit louder and more heartfelt with Monday being Memorial Day in the United States.

Those attending picnics, baseball games, family gatherings, and yes, hockey games, should stop for a moment and remember the thousands of servicemen and women who will not be partaking in any of these activities having provided "the last full measure of devotion" in the inspirational words of Abraham Lincoln.

Today, America and Canadian troops are stationed across the globe and are in harm's way, so please be sure to think about them while enjoying the holiday. And of the opportunity arises, give 'em a cheer.

Laperriere: We're in it to win it -- There are all sorts of cool perks and bennies for winning the Stanley Cup like a big ring, your name on the Cup, a special day with the Cup and the love and admiration of your fans.

But there is another reason to desperately desire a winning effort in the Stanley Cup Final -- immortality.

"Who remembers the losers? Nobody," Flyers veteran Ian Laperriere told reporters. "There're only two teams left, and we made it that far, we might as well win it. Like I told my young teammates, just because you made it to the Final this year ... don't expect it to happen all the time, especially with all the parity in the league now.

"They have to realize this may be their first chance and their last chance."

Getting the best of Buff -- Chris Pronger got the best of the much-anticipated matchup with Dustin Byfuglien in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final and in his estimation it was about time.

"There was a lot of talk. You guys had a lot to say about him, so I guess we needed to calm that down real quick," Pronger said during a rollicking give-and-take with reporters. "I have played in the West for 14 years. I played against him a lot. So it's not like I've been out East for my whole career and never played against the guy. That may have been blown out of proportion, I think."

Fair enough. So, what was the secret of his success?

"I just tried to deny him easy access to the front of the net," Pronger said. "As I said, the first couple of days, I think teams allowed him to just to go stand there. You have to force a guy like that to work. He's a big guy. But he's got to exert some energy and work to get into position. That tires guys out that aren't used to it. You have to pay a price, whatever that may be."

But seriously folks -- Chris Pronger did admit it was good to get the series started so all the players now know what to expect.

"I think there's no question it's good to get a game under your belt, understand the circus we're in, and, obviously. the stakes of the games and the atmosphere of the crowd and all the rest of that," Pronger said. "The first game is behind us. Everybody kind of knows what's expected of them now. If they didn't, they do now.

"Whether the guys are nervous or just had mental breakdowns, it happens. The game is a game of mistakes. And how you deal with them and correct them and all the things like that is what makes this game great and makes hockey the sport it is."

Inquiring minds want to know -- These were Peter Laviolette's opening words to Sunday's press conference at United Center.

"Let me start this press conference by saying that we will keep everything internally with regards to lineups, lineup changes, lines, goaltenders, anything that's internal, we'll probably keep it internal. But thank you for asking."

And thank you for coming.

Well Said I -- "My freaking shoulders are getting tired. It's time to pass the torch around. It's been a long time, but it's the right time." -- Flyers' Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent

More than meets the eye -- If you look at Marian Hossa's stats heading into Game 2 of the Final -- 2 goals, 11 assists in 17 games, you might not be impressed, based on Hossa's reputation as a scorer. But then again, you probably aren't Joel Quenneville.

"I know (Hossa's) production gets a lot of questioning," Quenneville said. "He's so effective in many ways. You're so comfortable with him against anybody. He finds a way to get the puck and create offense."

Back, but sore -- Brian Boucher's return to the ice isn't necessarily a sign that all is hunky-dory after he suffered a couple nasty knee injuries in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bruins.

"Obviously, there's soreness there, but from a medical standpoint, they say I cannot do more damage by just doing normal stuff," Boucher told reporters. "If someone falls on me, that's a different story, but that can happen to anybody."

Probably more in his line of work than ours.

Well Said II -- "It's disappointing, the fact that it was right there. It's frustrating that we didn't get the results. We had a lot of chances. We know that we can't get into a track meet with this team. But we know it's only one game. We have a lot of experience with losing games and bouncing back." -- Flyers' captain Mike Richards on losing Game 1.

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