Michel Therrien doesn’t give up easily. Back in the summer he had this vision of a Canadiens first line of newcomer Daniel Briere, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. That’s all right, most of us envisioned the same thing.
We are now through the exhibition schedule and seven games into the regular season and all we can say is, “It ain’t working!” The problem hasn’t been Pacioretty. He’s been a threat every game he’s played. But there is absolutely no chemistry between Desharnais and Briere and nobody can put his finger on what the problem is. Between exhibitions and the regular season they’ve certainly had more than enough time-on-ice together to figure out each other’s ideosyncracies.
Official game statistics tell us Biere and Desharnais were on the ice together through three exhibition games for a total of just over 40 minutes. In the regular season with various left wingers including Pacioretty, Desharnais and Briere have been on ice for 56:15. And what do we have to show? One assist for Desharnia and a goal and 2 assists for Briere. Two of Briere’s three points came on empty net goals.
At what point does Therrien cry “uncle”. Exhibition and regular season combined the two of them have been on the ice for 97 minutes and still they have found no communication. This is not a unique situation. Every team goes through the process of trying to fit personalities and styles together to form forward unit that function efficiently.
But Therrien is in a box. A shakeup means breaking up three well established and successful lines to satisfy the needs of a disfunctional one. Granted, he did try it. Out of desperation he switched around his top three centermen with Lars Eller winding up between Pacioretty and Briere for the Edmonton and Vancouver games. Things didn’t change much. After Vancouver he demoted Briere to the fourth line for Winnipeg. That lasted half a period before Pacioretty suffered that hamstring injury and Briere wound up back with Desharnais and Prust for the rest of the game. Thursday against Columbus it was Rene Bourque on the left side and that’s the way it’s going to be Saturday against Nashville..
Something is going to break, one way or the other. And sooner, not later. Either the light suddenly goes on for Briere and Desharnais or we find someone, I would imagine Briere, looking up from the fourth line again.