NASHVILLE — The softer side of Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was on display as he discussed the lineup changes for Saturday night’s game against the Nashville Predators (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Therrien revealed he would dress veteran defenceman Francis Bouillon, who has appeared in only four of the Canadiens’ last 16 games. The move wasn’t unexpected because the coach has a history with Bouillon and the defenceman has a history with the Predators.
“I have a lot of respect for (Bouillon) and he played here for many years and we think it’s the right thing to do,” said Therrien, whose association with the 38-year-old Bouillon dates back to their involvement with another predatory team.
Therrien coached Bouillon in 1996 when the Granby Prédateurs won the Memorial Cup.
Bouillon has played most of his National Hockey League career with the Canadiens, but made two stops in Music City. The Predators picked Bouillon up on waivers in 2002, but he played only four games before going back on waivers and returning to Montreal.
The defenceman returned to Nashville in 2009 after Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey cut him loose. Bouillon went to camp on a tryout basis and made the Predators, played 81 games that season and was rewarded with a new two-year contract.
“I was struggling and coming back from an injury, but (Nashville general manager) David Poile called me and gave me a chance and I really appreciated that,” Bouillon said after practice Friday. “I had three great years here and I really liked the city, so this is a special day for me.”
Bouillon returned to the Canadiens before last season’s lockout. The Canadiens were looking for insurance on the blue line and his relationship with Therrien was a factor in the decision to sign him.
There could be one other lineup change from Thursday night’s 5-1 thrashing in St. Louis. Therrien said his intention was to get veteran forward Daniel Brière back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch against the Blues.
The coach said he believes Brière can help the team, but “he needs to be more intense and quicker on the puck.”
Brière said he didn’t like watching the last game from the press box.
“But I think I’m better prepared to deal with it,” he said. “I’ve gone through some tough times. I know I have to produce offensively and hopefully some bounces will go my way and I’ll score some goals. That’s the cure-all, that’s what they’re expecting from me. I’m not hiding from anything, I know what I have to do.”
The Canadiens spent time Friday afternoon watching video and then hit the ice for an hour of breakout drills.
Carey Price, who will start in goal Saturday, showed his frustration after surrendering a goal in practice by shattering his stick on the crossbar.
“You can only let the frustration build up so far,” Price said. “It’s been a good three or four weeks since I’ve broken a stick. If you do it every once in a while it can help you vent, but it can’t be an everyday occurrence.”
The Canadiens have scored only seven goals in their last six games and Therrien said the key to turning things around is to have a better transition.
“We have to support each other, be good in all three zones and attack with speed,” the coach said.
Therrien added there were times in St. Louis when the Canadiens were working hard — they did kill off six penalties — but they weren’t necessarily working smart.
Noted Therrien: “If I want to go from Montreal to Quebec City and I go by way of Ottawa, I’ve worked really hard, but I haven’t worked smart.”
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