The Canadiens practised Tuesday morning in Brossard before boarding a flight to Tampa for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Lightning on Wednesday night (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Brandon Prust, who missed the last 12 games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, skated on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher, but coach Michel Therrien said Prust would be a game-time decision Wednesday.
“We’re not sure yet whether (Prust) will play,” Therrien told reporters after practice. “We’ll see tomorrow.”
Travis Moen, who is still recovering from a concussion, wore a no-contact jersey in practice and skated on a fifth line with Ryan White and George Parros. Moen will travel with the team to Tampa.
Linemate Gallagher is hoping Prust will be back.
“Getting Prust back into the lineup is going to be big for us,” Gallagher told reporters after practice. “He’s a guy who shows up and plays for his teammates every night. We’ve played well together in the past and it’s a lot of fun playing with him. Hopefully we can have success together and help the team. As a team, we need to do a good job playing defensively. (Steven) Stamkos is a really good player. He will get his chances and create things and it’s up to us to make it tough for him.”
Daniel Briere, who was signed to a two-year, $8-million free-agent contract last summer in part because of his playoff success, centred the fourth line with Michael Bournival and Dale Weise. In 108 career playoff games, Briere has 109 points, including 50 goals.
“When I prepare, what I’m thinking is that I want to be the guy that makes the big play,” Briere said. “I want the puck when the game’s on the line. It’s not about thinking that I’m a playoff performer or that I’m better than anyone. I wish it was clearer or that there was a better explanation, but there really isn’t.”
Briere finished 10th in team scoring with 13-12-25 totals in 69 regular-season games while averaging 12:46 of ice time and was plus-1.
“When I was younger, the preparation wasn’t the same, my focus wasn’t the same,” the 36-year-old Briere said about his early days in the NHL. “How I reacted was different After playing in so many games, you learn to deal with pressure. I expect there will be some butterflies in my first (playoff) game with the Canadiens, but I’m ready for it.”
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at practice Tuesday:
“We need contribution from everybody,” Therrien said after practice. “We can’t only rely on one line.”
In Tampa, goalie Ben Bishop, who missed the last three games of the regular season with an elbow injury, didn’t practise with his teammates Tuesday and won’t be ready to play in Game 1. Ryan Malone, who was arrested on the weekend and charged with DUI and cocaine possession, didn’t practise, either.
Forwards Valtteri Filppula (lower-body injury) and Ondrej Palat (upper body) both practised Tuesday and are listed as day-to-day. Forward Teddy Purcell, who has been battling the flu, also skated.
(Gazette file photo/John Kenney)