While getting their eyes tuned and various injuries repaired, some members of the Flyers are finding it tough to watch the playoffs knowing they could have been there.

"I have watched a few games here and there," said Danny Briere, who, along with Simon Gagne, recently had corrective eye surgery. "Watching the second round was tough because I felt like we should have been there. As my eyes get better, I will try to get back to watching. I will try to take some notes for the future years coming up with the Flyers."

Briere said seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins reach the Eastern Conference finals doesn't take the sting out of losing to them in the first round.

"Not really. At this time it really doesn't matter. Our goal was the Stanley Cup and we didn't achieve it," Briere said. "It doesn't matter who is left or who isn't."

Mike Richards, who is recovering from surgery to repair torn labrums in both shoulders, said he doesn't have much else to do, so he has been watching the playoffs.

"I have watched a lot, actually, just with not doing a whole lot," Richards said. "It is nice to see how good of hockey it is. Obviously, you still wish you were playing but the hockey has been incredible.

"I'm really not a guy that watches a whole lot; it really made me want to watch it more. I am getting actually excited at some of the games and some friends from Chicago do so well.

"I don't know if it is a consolation [that Pittsburgh is winning]. They are a good team, obviously, we know that by playing them. I'm not watching any specific team. But it is nice to see hockey and the style that is being played, how fast, entertaining and exciting it is for a hockey fan to watch it."

Richards said he is finding the aftereffects of double surgery to be more difficult than he expected and that the recovery is going slowly.

"I don't feel too bad," the Flyers captain said. "It is a lot tougher than I thought it would be with both shoulders done.

"I'm doing all right. I'm getting better. I'm starting to move a little bit better. I'm sleeping with two shoulder braces on so that's kind of the tough part.

"I can't really lift anything right now. I'm up in the gym just working with some small, 2-pound weights and stuff like that just trying to get my strength back."

Coach John Stevens said he is also finding it difficult to watch the playoffs and hasn't gotten much satisfaction in watching the team that knocked out the Flyers advance.

"When you lose, you lose," Stevens said. "But it certainly is an indication of how good they are. I thought they deserved to beat Washington. I was actually surprised it went seven. I thought it could have been over sooner than that.

"They still have a long way to go against Carolina, but I think they are the better team. Carolina has a couple of injuries. I think [Hurricanes goaltender Cam] Ward is a factor, but in the end I think Pittsburgh is going to win that series.

"I think Detroit has been the best team all year. The question mark was the goaltending, but [Chris Osgood] has played very well in the playoffs.

"They are a veteran group that has won before. You can expect to see a matchup like we saw last year. I don't think it is out of the question that the result will be different. I think Pittsburgh could give Detroit a run this year," he said.

"I think Detroit has been the best team and until they get dethroned, they are the best team, but I think Pitt can give them a run." *