Playing against former teammates is nothing new for the Canadiens’ Daniel Brière. He did it after he left the Phoenix Coyotes and again after he left the Buffalo Sabres. And he’ll do it for a third time Saturday when he faces his old teammates from the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
“(The scheduling) makes it a little bit easier on the preparation, because for me — because personally — it’s not a normal game,” Brière, who is happy to get it over with early in the season, told reporters after practice Friday in Brossard. “You’re facing your ex-teammates. I have a lot of friends there. It’ll be a little tougher, but I really believe that playing it in Montreal makes it a little easier.”
Brière added that the friendships he cultivated during his years in Philadelphia will be on hold for at least a few hours.
“I don’t expect any breaks from any of them,” he said. “You try to approach the game like it’s any other one but, obviously, there’s a little bit more on the line with your friends and trying to prove something among them. I’m sure little battles here and there are going to happen. On Saturday night, I face my friends, but once the puck drops they have a job to do and so do we. You have to leave the friendships behind until after the game.”
On the other side of the ice, Hal Gill is looking forward to being back in Montreal and seeing his old Canadiens teammates.
“You never know and that’s what makes Montreal so great,” Gill, who made the Flyers after signing a tryout contract, told The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs about the reception he will get from Canadiens fans. “The fans are awesome, but I’m on the bad guys now.
“I loved my time in Montreal and my family loved it,” Gill added, “so I would expect nothing but huge cheers like P.K. (Subban) gets.”
The Canadiens held an optional practice Saturday morning in Brossard and the only player who didn’t skate was Josh Gorges. Defenceman Nathan Beaulieu, who was called up from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday night, took part in the practice.
Max Pacioretty won’t play against the Flyers due to an upper-body injury and will join George Parros, who has a concussion, on the sidelines. Ryan White and Michael Bournival will both play against the Flyers.
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)