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Advantage, Satan

Flyers are missing Gagne, who's like Bruins' veteran.

As the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the Flyers and Boston Bruins have shown, there is little that separates the teams.

So far, though, the Bruins are getting significant contributions from the kind of player that is currently not available to the Flyers: a veteran forward to go along with Danny Briere, a guy who knows his way around the postseason, who has been there, done that, and can usually be counted upon to keep on doing it.

The Bruins have Miroslav Satan, a 35-year-old right wing who has two goals and two assists in the first two games. In a series Boston leads, two games to none, with Game 3 Wednesday as it shifts to the Wachovia Center, it can be argued that Satan is what separates the clubs at this point. The evidence is in some simple math: The Bruins won each game by a goal.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, the veteran winger capable of giving them what Satan has given the Bruins is hobbling around with a broken toe - Simon Gagne. Gagne is five years younger than Satan, but like Satan, he is an elder statesman among the forwards on his team.

Satan, who gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead midway through the second period of Monday's 3-2 victory in Boston and who assisted on the winning goal scored by Milan Lucic, is on a roll. He has a five-game points streak with four goals and four assists.

Satan is also somewhat of a Flyers nemesis. He has scored 39 points in 59 games against the Flyers during his career. Last season, when he was with Pittsburgh, Satan helped send the Flyers off to their summer cottages by assisting on a goal scored by Sergei Gonchar that gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead in Game 6 of the first round after the Flyers built a 3-0 advantage.

After Monday's game, Satan claimed he felt no special magic when matched against the Flyers.

"I didn't know that until they told me [Monday] morning," Satan said when asked about his numbers against the Flyers. "We're just trying to win the series, and I'm just trying to help the team."

Satan is a former teammate of Briere's in Buffalo and a two-time member of Slovakia's Olympic team, including the Vancouver Olympics earlier this year. His career has taken some unorthodox twists and turns: He began last season with Pittsburgh before the Penguins placed him on waivers. When no team claimed him, Satan was sent to the minors and reportedly was a positive influence on the young players at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Pens' AHL affiliate.

Pittsburgh recalled him, and he ended up having his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. Satan went without a job until the Bruins signed him Jan. 2 to play the rest of the season for $700,000.

In the first round against Buffalo, Satan scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to give Boston a lead of three games to one. He then scored the series-clinching goal in Game 6.

Obviously, the Bruins are getting what they wanted. Now it's at the Flyers' expense.