“We had some success on the power play early (Monday) night and that’s good for the confidence,” says Canadiens forward Daniel Brière.
Photograph by: Allen McInnis, Montreal Gazette
MONTREAL — Daniel Brière finds himself back in familiar territory as he lines up with the Canadiens’ first power-play unit.
“It’s good to be back there because I didn’t play much on the power play last year in Philadelphia,” Brière said Tuesday after the Canadiens practised in Brossard. “That’s partly my fault, because I had injuries and I wasn’t playing that well.”
A healthy Brière said he’s starting to feel comfortable with new linemates Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, and that playing together on the power play has helped the line come together.
“We had some success on the power play early (Monday) night and that’s good for the confidence,” said Brière, who assisted on the first of two power play goals by Pacioretty in the Canadiens’ 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.
“I thought we played well on the power play and that will carry over into our 5-on-5 play,” added Brière, who was the Canadiens’ most significant acquisition in the off-season. “We’re getting to know each other, where we’re going to be and what we’re going to do in certain situations.”
Brière was cycling down low when he found Pacioretty in the high slot for Montreal’s first goal.
Brière said the power play has always been a large part of his game.
“Even when I was starting in Phoenix and I was playing on the fourth line, I had time on the power play,” he recalled of his early days in the National Hockey League.
Brière’s success on the power play is reflected in the statistics. He has scored 102 of his 286 goals with the extra man and he has also collected 148 power-play assists.
While the Canadiens haven’t spent a lot of time working on special teams, it appears that coach Michel Therrien is relying heavily on defencemen P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov. The Canadiens were on the power play for 6:08 Monday, and Markov was on the ice for 5:44 and Subban logged 5:30. Subban assisted on Pacioretty’s second goal when he caught the Devils’ defence napping with a stretch pass from deep in the Canadiens’ zone to the far blue line.
Pacioretty beat Martin Brodeur with a backhander off the rush.
“You saw his speed and his hands on that goal,” Brière said.
Brière added that he’s enjoying the intense practices in Montreal and has gained an understanding of the Canadiens’ system.
“When I was in Philly, it was always tough to play against Montreal and New Jersey, and I didn’t know why,” Brière said. “The system here is all about putting pressure on the opponent, not giving them room to move.”
With back-to-back games against the Senators Wednesday night in Ottawa and Thursday at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., RDS, TSN Radio 690 for both games), Therrien said he would try to strike a balance between getting his lineup ready for next Tuesday’s season opener against Toronto at the Bell Centre and keeping his troops fresh.
“We have some young players we want to look at some more, and we’ll do that in Ottawa, and then we’ll have pretty much the starting lineup back here in Montreal,” Therrien said.
That means fans in Ottawa will likely see Nathan Beaulieu, Magnus Nygren, Patrick Holland, Nick Tarnasky, Gabriel Dumont and Michael Bournival, who still has an outside chance to make the opening-night roster.
Captain Brian Gionta will make his first appearance of the preseason on Thursday, playing on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque. Gionta had surgery on his right biceps and, while he was cleared for contact last week, the Canadiens elected to give him some extra recovery time.
Therrien confirmed that his opening-night lineup is set. He’s happy with the David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec and Lars Eller lines and it appears that Travis Moen, Ryan White and Brandon Prust will form the fourth line.
George Parros, who had shoulder surgery in the off-season, has been cleared for contact, but Therrien said the 6-foot-5, 224-pounder won’t play in either of the final two exhibition games.
The end of Tuesday’s practice provided some fun as assistant coach Gerard Gallant joined a shootout contest and scored back-to-back goals on Peter Budaj and Carey Price.
“I think we’ll keep (Gallant) behind the bench and use him in shootouts,” Therrien said.
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