BROSSARD – After a day off on Tuesday, the Canadiens were back on the ice on Wednesday morning.
Head coach Michel Therrien decided to use both ice surfaces at the Bell Sports Complex. A number of prospects worked with Patrice Brisebois on one side of the building, while most of the Habs regulars took part in passing and skating drills with members of the coaching staff on the other rink.
One major change was the fact that Brian Gionta shed his blue “non-contact” jersey and instead skated in regular red practice sweater, a sign that his recovery is on-track and that the Habs’ captain is inching closer toward a return. Meanwhile, Douglas Murray took a day off to nurse a lower-body injury, while George Parros was the lone remaining non-contact player at practice.
Though he did not practice alongside the established veterans on the team, Michael McCarron was still in high spirits, having avoided the first two rounds of cuts that claimed the likes of Charles Hudon, Louis Leblanc and Zachary Fucale, among others.
“I’m not surprised [to still be in Montreal], since I worked out pretty hard in the summer, came here with a good mentality and did my best to force the coaches to make a hard decision,” reflected McCarron, who will have an opportunity to take part in at least one more preseason game before most likely returning to the OHL’s London Knights.
McCarron’s adjustment to his new environment mirrored that of countryman Max Pacioretty, who was beginning to find a rhythm with new linemate Daniel Briere and his long-time set up man David Desharnais.
“Now that I’m the big guy on the line, I need to create some time and space so that [Briere and Desharnais can play their game],” explained Pacioretty on the subject of his role on the Habs’ new-look scoring line.
The three veterans have been paired together since the start of training camp in hopes of building chemistry by the time October rolls around. While Pacioretty has been complimentary of Briere’s offensive skill set, he also believes that the newest member of his line will be a calming presence throughout the season.
“Danny has a lot of experience in the league. You can tell that nothing really phases him. He’s able to block out both the good and the bad, and that’s helpful [to David and me],” noted Pacioretty.
Briere himself had nothing but good things to say about his linemates.
“One thing I noticed right away when playing on the [Pacioretty-Desharnais] line is their speed. They’re always on the puck,” confirmed Briere, whose own game is built on quickness.
He’s also enjoyed the faith Therrien has shown in the trio early on.
“I like Michel’s philosophy so far. He’s giving us a chance to get to know each other,” said Briere.