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The Philadelphia Flyers spent a lot of time after their game-day skate talking about the importance of taking the Bell Centre crowd out of the game early.

However, not all of the 21,273 screaming fanatics will be pulling for the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. A few of them will be cheering for the four Francophones on the Flyers' roster.

Of the four, only Ian Laperriere is actually from Montreal and he will not be playing because he is still recovering from a brain contusion he suffered in the first round of the NHL playoffs. But Daniel Briere, who grew up in Gatineau, Que., and Simon Gagne, who hails from Ste. Foy, both said they hustled up a whack of tickets for their friends and family. The fourth member of the group, Claude Giroux, is actually a Northern Ontario lad who grew up in Hearst.

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"It's going to be fun," Gagne said. "There were a lot of tickets for my friends and family tonight. In the regular season it is still special [to play in Montreal]but the playoffs are even more special.

"I'm looking forward to it. I heard the crowd is going to be very loud; there's going to be a lot of emotion in the stands."

The Flyers know the Canadiens are going to open the game with a rush, propelled by the crowd. While the visitors hold a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference final and have yet to allow the Canadiens a goal, the one thing the Canadiens have done right so far in the series is play strong first periods.

If the Canadiens can get the early lead thanks to what is expected to be an opening surge, it could turn the series around for them. Briere said the Flyers know Montreal is going to score at some point and what is important is how they react.

"We're happy about what happened in the last two games, keeping them off the scoreboard, but we're realistic, too," Briere said. "We have to be prepared for that and realize the next shift will be important.

"We have to go and get that momentum back and try to kill the crowd as early as we can because we know this is going to be a rowdy building."

The Flyers are not expected to make any lineup changes for Game 3 of the best-of-seven series. Forward Jeff Carter, who suffered a broken right foot in Game 4 of the Flyers' first-round series against the New Jersey Devils, took part Thursday in a skate with the rest of the team for the first time since he was hurt but he is not expected to play until Game 5 of this series.

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All Flyer head coach Peter Laviolette would say about Carter was that "he looked good."

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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