Captain Brian Gionta will be back in the lineup when the Canadiens face the Jets Tuesday night in Winnipeg (8 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN Radio 690) while Daniel Brière will be demoted to the fourth line with Michael Bournival at centre and Travis Moen.
Ryan White will be the odd man out with Gionta returning to the lineup.
Gionta, who left the team last week for a family reasons and missed Saturday’s game in Vancouver, will play on a line with Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty. Gionta said his young son, who had been ill, is doing much better. The team gave the captain the option of staying home, but Therrien said Gionta wanted to play and he flew out of Montreal on Sunday and practised with the team Monday in Winnipeg.
“It puts things in perspective,” Gionta, who will play his 700th career game Tuesday, told reporters in Winnipeg. “It’s family first. But it will be good to get back on the ice.”
P.K. Subban will continue to play with Andrei Markov on the No. 1 defence pair and Carey Price will start in goal against the Jets.
In his first five games with the Canadiens after signing a two-year, $8-million free-agent contract during the offseason, Brière has one assist and 11 shots on goal and is even in the plus/minus stats.
“We reflected on it for a long time before we made this decision,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters about the decision to demote Brière. “The reason is purely because of a lack of production. I’m convinced Daniel understands the move. But I believe strongly in using all four lines. That’s how we’ll start tomorrow, but things can change quickly, even in the middle of the game. It all depends on how guys are performing.”
Said Brière: “It’s not the end of the world. The team is doing well and that’s what matters. For sure, personally, it’s not the best. I’d like to be producing more than I have. But I’ve always been the type of guy who gets going a bit later offensively. I’m looking forward to that happening, but there’s no drama here. I’m not worried about it.”
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at practice:
(Photo by Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)