Heatley, Briere 'enemies' for 2 weeks

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

As guys, they must surely needle each other relentlessly, right?

Well, pressed for an example yesterday, Dany Heatley smiled and threw his buddy in Buffalo a jab that won't land until he reads this very paper.

It'll get him right where it hurts: Square in the manhood.

"He looks like he's 12," the Senators winger said of Sabres captain Daniel Briere, whom Heatley was asked if he sees much of in the off-season. "Nah, he's got three kids.

"Imagine, 12 years old with three kids."

Briere, the Gatineau native who leads his team into Round 2 playoff action at The Bank tonight against the Senators, has hit Heatley with a pretty good shot himself. Only this one was unintentional, not funny, and left both of them feeling sick.

As teammates with Bern in the Swiss league during the NHL work stoppage, it was a Briere-fired puck that caught Heatley in the left eye, leaving him in a scary situation similar to that which Habs captain Saku Koivu found himself in after getting clipped with a stick last week.

Heatley had to wait 6-8 weeks before the injury "calmed down" and he could resume his career.

"It was a 2-on-2, I took a shot and fell down in front of the net," Heatley remembered. "The rebound, he just shot it, and as soon as I looked up I got it right in the grill.

"It was one of those bang-bang things. Very unfortunate, but everything's worked out."

The Heatley-Briere combo had worked out tremendously prior to that. In 2004, Heatley was the MVP at the world championship, skating on a line with Briere and Edmonton's Ethan Moreau. The year before, Heatley and Briere enjoyed success playing together at the same tournament.

Starting this evening, however, they will be key factors on opposing teams attempting to get to the Eastern Conference final.

"It's a weird situation," Briere said in yesterday's Le Droit. "You always want to see your friends do well ... (but in this case) you don't want to see them do too well."

Heatley echoed those sentiments.

"He's a good guy and a good friend, but for the next two weeks we'll be enemies," he said.

While Briere picked up nine points in Buffalo's six-game opening series victory against Philadelphia, Heatley also loomed large in Ottawa's ousting of Tampa.

Quietly, he recorded 10 points -- on two goals and eight assists -- in just five games.

Only New Jersey's Patrick Elias produced more in the first round, with five goals and six assists for 11 points in four games. Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza are tied with Heatley for second in playoff scoring.

"I think Dany, in the latter part of the series, started playing very well," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "He's one of the people that were really focused and ready to go. I think going forward, he'll play good hockey for us."

NEVER BEEN IN POST-SEASON

And to think Heatley has never even been this far before. Making his first NHL playoff appearance, he was always done by this time of year -- playing college and minor hockey -- save for the occasional tournament as a kid.

"This is great," he said, his face lighting up as it did while he walked to the team bus at Madison Square Garden after the regular-season finale, talking about the upcoming playoffs. "It's nice to be playing in the spring time."

For Heatley, it's also going to be fun to see his friend Briere -- although he has no current plans to engage in any friendly, off-ice trash talk with him.

"Probably not, although I'm not against that," he said. "I think we both know that once we get on the ice, it's going to be a battle.

"He's playing very well, ever since he came back from his injury," Heatley added of Briere, who missed a large portion of the season with a sports hernia. "I don't know his numbers, but it seems every night he's getting two points, or 11/2 at least. And in the playoffs.

"But he's not the only guy we have to watch out for. They're a team that rolls three or four lines and all of them are contributing."

Just like the Senators, the Sabres are fast, exciting and young.

In fact, at the energy level the two teams are expected to play tonight, you may find it hard to imagine any of these kids having kids.


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